New Bulgarian Parliament to Convene on 11 July

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov signed a decree Tuesday (5 July) summoning the country’s new parliament to convene on 11 July. He also urged the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which won the 25 June general election but failed to secure an outright majority, to try to reach agreement on a government coalition before he hands them the mandate to form a new cabinet — most likely in mid-July, according to informed sources.

The BSP won 31 per cent of the vote, which translates into 82 seats in the 240-seat unicameral legislature. The ruling centrist National Movement for Simeon II (NMS-II) came in second with 20 per cent, or 53 seats, and the Movements for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) was third with 13 per cent, or 34 seats. The remaining 71 seats are divided among four other parties and coalitions.

Having failed to win an outright majority, the BSP is now in talks with the MRF, the NMS-II, and representatives of the rightist parties in the new parliament. The MRF has already declared its readiness to join a BSP-led coalition. But the BSP and MRF have a combined total of only 116 lawmakers — five votes short of a simple majority.

The NMS-II, meanwhile, has suggested that it would not join a coalition unless its leader, incumbent Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg, retains his post. The BSP rejects that idea, insisting instead that its leader, Sergey Stanishev, should get the top job.

If the NMS-II cannot be persuaded to join a BSP-MRF coalition, poaching deputies from other parties to secure a majority could be an option, Stanishev told BSP members Sunday.

However, Saxe-Coburg appears to be moderating his position, following EU warnings that a continued deadlock over the formation of the new government could jeopardise the country’s scheduled entry into the Union in January 2007.

“The broader the coalition for the next cabinet is, the better,” the NMS-II leader told reporters Tuesday, adding that he did not want to be a prime minister at “any cost”.

“We all have to abide by the interests of Bulgaria,” said Saxe-Coburg, ahead of a trilateral meeting Wednesday with Stanishev and MRF leader Ahmed Dogan. The talks are seen by some as an indication the three parties are close to a deal.

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