Bulgarian Lawmakers Accept Premier’s Resignation on Defeat

Updated on
  • Borissov resigns after his candidate loses presidential vote
  • President-Elect Radev can call snap vote in March at earliest

Bulgarian lawmakers accepted Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s resignation, throwing the Black Sea country into political uncertainty before a snap election that will probably take place in March or April next year.

Lawmakers in the 240-member assembly voted 218-0 with two abstentions, to end Borissov’s second term in office, two years after he took power, Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva said in Sofia on Wednesday. Borissov resigned after his candidate, Tsacheva, lost the Nov. 13 presidential election to former Air Force chief Rumen Radev, who ran on the ticket of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party.

“Our government will continue fulfilling its functions until a new one takes office,” Borissov told lawmakers. “The vote of the people showed they want change. We sought support from radically different parties to stabilize the country, to solve problems, the migrant crisis. I’m surprised our coalition government endured two years.”

Borissov’s resignation will trigger the third snap election in the European Union’s poorest country in five years. His party’s defeat by Radev, a fighter-pilot-turned-political-novice who campaigned on battling corruption, strengthening the borders against immigrants and upgrading the military, echoes gains made by anti-establishment forces across Europe and in the U.S., including the U.K.’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential election victory.

The yield on Bulgaria’s euro-denominated bonds maturing in 2024 fell 1 basis point to 1.998 percent at 4:56 p.m. in Sofia.

Tight Race

If other parties refuse to form a cabinet, as they’ve said they will, outgoing President Rosen Plevneliev can appoint an interim administration. Then Radev, who is scheduled to take office in January, will have the authority to dissolve the assembly and call a snap vote in March at the earliest.

“We can expect a tight race for the general snap elections, bringing populist promises that could threaten fiscal consolidation,” Ciprian Dascalu, ING’s chief economist for the Balkans, said in an e-mailed note. “Bulgaria’s economic performance and budget coffers offer buffers for a smooth transition. However, the tight race would lead to higher risks for fiscal slippage over the medium term.”

In his speech to parliament Borissov urged Radev and Plevneliev to form an interim government together that will work until the elections to ensure stability. He also warned lawmakers against drastic spending increases when voting on next year’s budget this month.

Borissov, 57, climbed from being a former bodyguard after the fall of Communism of late Soviet-era dictator Todor Zhivkov and exiled king and ex-Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to become mayor in the capital, Sofia, and later premier. He was ousted from power in his first term in 2013 by anti-austerity protests.

(Updates with markets in fifth paragraph.)
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