Bulgaria's Borissov Starts Coalition Talks With Nationalists

  • Borissov warns of country risks should government talks fail
  • President Radev may convene parliament by end of April

Bulgaria’s former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov started preliminary talks with the United Patriots, an alliance of nationalist parties, to form his third cabinet since 2009 and put an end to political uncertainty in the European Union’s poorest state.

Borissov’s Gerb party, which won 95 seats in the 240-member parliament in a March 26 snap vote, held initial talks with the Patriots on Tuesday, Borissov told reporters in the capital Sofia. Their 27 lawmakers can ensure majority for a stable government for a full four-year term, he said. The negotiations will continue later this week. President Rumen Radev is expected to ask Borissov to form a cabinet after parliament convenes in the second half of April.

“We have the obligation to form a government,” Borissov said. Failure to do so “will mean new elections, spending more money and the country sinking deeper. We need to find reasonable compromises based on our programs. If we find more support in parliament, it would be even better. I hope the parliamentary forces realize that if we fail, everyone fails.”

Borissov, 57, won the elections pledging to keep Bulgaria’s commitments to the EU and NATO. The Black Sea nation of 7.2 million people, is looking to end the political upheaval that’s brought a spate of elections and restrained the country’s economy. The Socialists, who campaigned on closer ties with Russia, finished second in the elections with 80 seats in the assembly. They’re unlikely to gather enough support for a cabinet, according to Borissov.

EU Presidency

Preparing for the six-month rotating presidency of the EU from next January will be the focus of the next government. Borissov may need to make policy concessions in the coalition talks with the nationalist United Patriots, who themselves are an alliance of three parties with a history of infighting. Gerb wants to maintain the 10 percent flat income tax rate and a balanced fiscal policy while the nationalists want higher spending on pensions and social benefits.

Borissov resigned in November, two years before his cabinet’s term in office ended, after Gerb’s nominee lost the presidential vote against Radev, a U.S.-trained former Air Force chief backed by the Socialists. Borissov’s first government collapsed in 2013 after mass anti-austerity protests.

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