Bulgarian President Sets Up New Party to Challenge `Helpless' Government

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov set up a party to challenge Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet, which he said lacked the competence to handle the country’s economic crisis.

Parvanov, 52, founded the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival that includes former ministers and lawmakers from the Socialist Party, which he led until becoming President in 2002. The ruling Gerb party said it may move to impeach him in response. Parvanov was re-elected for a second five-year term in 2006 and isn’t eligible to run in next year’s presidential elections.

Bulgaria is struggling to end its first recession in more than a decade after a three-year lending boom stalled and foreign investment dried up during the global financial crisis. The European Commission asked Bulgaria to narrow its budget gap from 4.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 to below 3 percent of GDP by the end of 2011.

“The Cabinet looks helpless as usual,” Parvanov said in Sofia today. There is “a deficit of competency in dealing with the economic crisis. There is a crisis of governance. Work is done on day-by-day basis without a big-picture vision.” The party “is a laboratory for alternative policies.”

Parliament today approved next year’s budget plan, which envisages economic growth of 3.6 percent, after a 0.7 percent growth estimate for 2010 and a 5.1 percent contraction in 2009.

Impeachment Possible

Borissov’s Gerb will consult with other parties to introduce a motion to impeach Parvanov, Krasimir Velchev, the head of the party’s parliamentary group, told reporters today.

“Parvanov is using his power in office to set up a new political force, which violates the constitution,” Borissov told reporters last week. “He can no longer be considered the President of all Bulgarians, but an ordinary opposition politician.”

Gerb in the 2009 parliamentary elections beat the previous Socialist-led coalition government, which Parvanov helped put together in 2005. There is a danger that the new party will poach people from the Socialists, Evgeni Unuzov, the party’s secretary, told reporters today.

Executive power lies with the government, with the president as the army’s commander-in-chief, who has the right to veto legislation, propose the appointment of Cabinet members and call early elections. Forming a party made Parvanov unworthy of the post, Borissov said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia at ekonstantino@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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