Syria-Linked Vote Fails to Oust Bulgarian Prime Minister

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski survived a third no-confidence vote called by former Premier Boyko Borissov’s Gerb party over what it said was a failure to curb crime and handle an influx of Syrian refugees.

Lawmakers in the European Union’s poorest state rejected the motion in a 116-93 vote, with eight abstentions in the 240-seat assembly, Speaker Mihail Mikov said in parliament today. Oresharski’s minority cabinet took office nine months ago and survived two similar votes over his administration’s regional development and investment policies last October.

“Gerb introduced this vote just to reaffirm their political presence,” Kolyo Kolev, a political analyst and owner of Mediana Research Institute, said today by phone. “It has worked against them, as their track record of inefficiency, questionable decisions and security blunders was unveiled during the debates.”

Political leaders are trying to shore up public confidence in the country of 7.5 million people after months of rallies by demonstrators who oppose what they say is a corrupt political system. Oresharski came to power after anti-austerity protests forced out his predecessor, triggering snap elections in May.

Bulgaria has been forced to pay penalties in dozens of cases by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg since 2009 after Gerb’s government arrested several businessmen and opposition politicians on suspicion of running organized crime groups. They sued for excessive use of force and rights violations, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said during the debate on the vote on Feb. 10. Gerb also failed to act on 114 security services reports warning about the coming wave of refugees.

Contained Crisis

“We have contained the crisis and drastically reduced the number of illegal immigrants,” Yovchev told lawmakers. “We have also increased the number of those evacuated to other countries and increased the refugee agency’s accommodation capacity by thousands.”

Bulgaria, which shares a border with Turkey, is providing shelter for about 10,000 Syrians. The number of undocumented immigrants has declined since the army and police stepped up patrols and began building a wire fence along the border, according to Yovchev. The Black Sea state, used to dealing with about 2,000 refugees a year, lacks adequate facilities for more, he said last month.

The UN estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the push to drive President Bashar al-Assad from power 2 1/2 years ago deteriorated into civil war. The number of Syrians fleeing to adjacent countries, including Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, has surged and spread to Bulgaria and other nations.

Yields Unchanged

Borissov’s Gerb party won the most votes in a May 2013 election. It fell short of an outright majority and couldn’t form a cabinet. A minority government supported by the Socialists and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which represents ethnic Turks, later took power.

The yield on Bulgaria’s euro-denominated bonds maturing in 2017 was unchanged at 1.722 percent at 10:50 a.m. in Sofia today. The cost of insuring the country’s debt against non-payment for five years using credit-default swaps fell four basis points to 122.

The Socialists lead in support from potential voters with 19.5 percent, according to a survey by Sova-Haris Plc polling agency conducted Jan. 10-15 among 1,000 people. Gerb was second with 18.4 percent. The poll had a 3% margin of error. The Socialists came second in last year’s elections with 27.6 percent, after Gerb’s 30.5 percent.

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