Bulgaria: Government loses vote of confidence

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The government of Kirill Petkov in Bulgaria collapsed today, after the motion of censure was submitted to the parliament, causing political unrest in the country in the midst of the war in Ukraine and rising inflation.

The opposition ousted the government – which took power six months ago – with 123 members voting in favor of the motion of censure, compared with 116 against a total of 240.

The catalyst for this outcome was the disagreement over whether Bulgaria should unblock Northern Macedonia’s accession to the European Union.

Petkov, a 42-year-old Harvard graduate who has pledged to fight corruption, has taken a clearly pro-European and pro-pro-Russian stance since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an unusual approach to a Reuters agency. Political analysts predict that the new government will adopt a “more neutral stance”.

“This vote is just a small step on a very long road,” Petkov said after it was completed.

Bulgaria could lead to new elections in the fourth quarter of April 2021, jeopardizing millions of euros from EU recovery funds and its plans to adopt the single European currency in 2024.

The political stalemate could also hamper Sofia’s efforts to ensure a steady flow of gas after Moscow cut off supplies due to Bulgaria’s refusal to pay in rubles. It should be noted that Bulgaria is heavily dependent on Russian gas.

Petkov has rejected talks with opposition parties on forming a governing coalition and will seek to reach out to dissident lawmakers in a last-ditch effort to avoid early elections.

President Rumen Radev will re-instruct Kirill Petkov’s party to form a new government. If it fails, two more parties will try. In case of failure, the parliament will be dissolved and new elections will be called.

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