President Rumen Radev displayed hostility regarding the coalition “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” as he handed them the mandate to try to form a government on Monday (29 May), as the constitution requires.
At the ceremony, Radev did not shake hands with the candidate for prime minister Nikolay Denkov and advised him not to fulfil the mandate to form a government, as this mandate was “already discredited”.
Professor Nikolay Denkov was chosen as a candidate for prime minister because of his non-conflict political profile, which aims to attract the support of Borisov’s party – GERB.
The chemistry professor has a long political experience, having served three times as minister of education in the caretaker governments of Radev, as well as once in the government of former prime minister Kiril Petkov.
The handing over of the mandate to form a government occurred amid the scandal over the leaked five-hour recording of the leadership meeting of “We Continue the Change”.
The recording was published on Friday (May 26) by MP Radostin Vassilev, who has spoken out against entering into a coalition with GERB.
From the leaked conversations, it is clear that the leaders of “We Continue the Change” are considering replacing all the heads of special services appointed by Radev.
The “We Continue the Change” leaders also discuss coordinating appointments in the offices with foreign embassies and using Western expertise to purge Russian influence.
Talks about the purge of the president’s people from the special services apparently seriously irritated the president, who directly wished for the failure of Denkov’s candidacy.
“As president and commander-in-chief, I am directly responsible to be the guardian of the statehood. Because of this, it would be inappropriate for me to hand you a mandate (to form a government)”, Radev said.
He explained that the leaked records of an internal meeting of “We Continue the Change” were equivalent to the “torpedoing of Bulgarian sovereignty”, also referring to “the planned purge” in Bulgaria’s state administration and the “discreditation of leaders of European institutions and the name of Bulgaria”.
The almost five-hour recording suggests that “We Continue the Change” leaders are also planning purges in the state administration. Although unclear, a statement appears to suggest plans to interfere in the elections via the control of the Ministry of Interior.
The release of the recording led to the freezing on Saturday of the agreement to form a pro-Western government with the support of the largest party, GERB.
Radev clarified that he respects Denkov as a person, as he has served as acting minister of education in several caretaker governments under his watch.
Although he created the impression that he would simply deny the mandate, Radev said he had to abide by the constitution and give to the second force an exploratory mandate to form a government.
“I think we are all unanimous that Bulgaria needs a stable government that will solve people’s problems and that will resolutely advance Bulgaria’s European path,” Denkov said and reminded that Bulgaria also needs a stable parliament.
If the parliament fails again, this time in its attempt to produce a regularly elected government, all power in the country will remain in the hands of the president, who actively opposes sending military aid to Ukraine.
“Negotiations with GERB must be unfrozen,” said Denkov after the meeting with the President.
Boyko Borissov, the leader of GERB, is now demanding an expert cabinet with a short mandate.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]
Read more with EURACTIV
EU, US voice concern over Poland’s ‘Russian influence’ committeeThe European Union and the United States have expressed concerns on Tuesday (30 May) over a new Polish law creating a body to probe “Russian influence”, which critics say Warsaw will use to target opposition.