Bulgaria's Borissov, Nationalists Agree on Coalition Cabinet

  • Borissov’s Gerb, Patriots sign four-year ruling agreement
  • Program envisages keeping EU, NATO commitments, wage increases

Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s Gerb party and the United Patriots, an alliance of nationalist parties, agreed to form a coalition cabinet that plans to keep the Black Sea nation’s commitments to the European Union and NATO.

The agreement, which gives Gerb and the Patriots 122 of parliament’s 240 seats, brings the bodyguard-turned politician closer to forming his third cabinet since 2009. The accord will allow the coalition government to fulfill its four-year term in office, Valeri Simeonov, a co-leader of the Patriots, told reporters in Sofia Thursday. The cabinet lineup will be discussed next week, Borissov said at the same briefing.

“Regardless of our differences, we have reached an agreement on a joint strategic program of the future coalition government,” Simeonov said. “It’s a symbol of our determination to govern until 2021.”

Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest state of 7.2 million people, is looking to end the political upheaval that’s brought four general elections since 2009 and restrained the economy. Borissov, 57, won the vote pledging allegiance to the 28-nation bloc, while the Patriots and opposition Socialists campaigned to revive business ties with Russia. He reiterated his concern that Bulgaria needs a stable government amid uncertainty in the EU caused by U.K.’s departure and instability in neighboring Turkey, Greece and Macedonia.

Wages, Budget

The coalition’s priorities include wage and pension increases along with working to join the euro-area and the ECB’s Single Supervisory Mechanism, according to the program. The two parties also plan to keep the lev-euro peg, the 10 percent flat income tax, to boost economic growth and achieve a balanced budget. Bulgaria’s parliament will convene for its first session after the March 26 snap vote on April 19, after which President Rumen Radev is expected to hand Borissov the mandate to form a government.

The yield on Bulgaria’s euro-denominated bonds maturing in September 2024 fell 0.4 basis points to 1.412 percent at 1:22 p.m. in Sofia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Former Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said Wednesday he may serve as finance minister again in the next cabinet.

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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