Political turmoil in Bulgaria, the overthrown government

The text was adopted by 123 of the 240 deputies, while 116 voted against, one being also absent, announced the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Miroslav Ivanov.

Now hangs the risk of a spiral of elections over this Balkan country of 6.5 million inhabitants, the poorest in the European Union.

The Bulgarians have already lived through three legislative elections last year. Until the sensational entry into politics of pro-European liberal Petkov, a graduate of Harvard University who decided to wipe the slate clean of corruption after a decade of the reign of the controversial Boïko Borissov.

But the motley coalition formed in December cracked: at the beginning of June, it lost the support of the anti-system party “There are such people” (ITP).

In opposition, the Gerb, the conservative party of Mr. Borissov, rushed into the breach and tabled a motion, pointing to “the failure of the government’s economic and financial policy“, in a context of soaring prices.

It was an honor for me to lead a government overthrown by Borissov, Peevski, Trifonov and Mitrofanova“, reacted Mr. Petkov, referring, in addition to the leaders of the opposition, to a well-known oligarch and to the Russian ambassador in Sofia.

They don’t understand that this is not the right way to win the favor of the Bulgarian people“, he added, promising to continue the battle.

– The files of discord –

The Prime Minister had come to power with the hope of “turn Bulgaria into a normal, successful, mafia-free European country“, but the war in Ukraine has upset his agenda.

In this country traditionally close to Moscow, the war “accentuated the divisions, weakening the government“, explains to AFP Rouslan Stefanov of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD).

Despite its heavy dependence on Russian energy, Sofia did not give in to the Kremlin’s request to open a ruble account for gas payment and therefore suffered a cut in deliveries.

This unprecedented event played “a key role in the current crisis“, says Ognyan Mintchev, director of the Institute of International Studies in the capital.

Bulgarian oligarchs who received commissions“found themselves deprived of income,”which aggravated tensions within the coalition as well as between business circles and the government“, he told AFP.

Russian interference is important in Bulgaria, many circles are sensitive to it“, adds political scientist Yavor Siderov, referring to “incessant attempts to destabilize through the dissemination of false information“.

Another issue has sown discord: the delivery of arms to Ukraine. Within the government, while most were in favor of it, the Socialists for their part refused to respond to kyiv’s demands.

Also a source of discord, the Bulgarian veto on the launch of negotiations for North Macedonia’s accession to the EU, for reasons of historical and cultural disputes.

– Inevitable elections –

The war has brought the issue of EU enlargement to the Balkans back on the table, with increased geostrategic importance, and Western pressure for Sofia to lift its opposition has increased.

But the rapprochement strategy initiated by Mr. Petkov has not been to everyone’s taste in the government.

President Roumen Radev will now call for negotiations to try to form a new cabinet. The party of Kiril Petkov, winner of the last elections, should try again, followed by two other parties.

If this fails, Parliament will be dissolved and new elections organised.

But, in the opinion of experts, the organization of a new election will not solve anything because the political landscape is very fragmented.

In a final burst, thousands of Bulgarians took to the streets on Wednesday to support Kiril Petkov’s cabinet.

It is very discouraging that this vote succeeded, but we will remain mobilized until we win the next election“said Marin Iorkichev, 22.

Things were just starting to look up“, lamented Adriana Panayotova, a 34-year-old entrepreneur.

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