New Bulgarian alliance seizes power and promises reforms

“We Keep Changing” frontman Kiril Petkov greets fans ahead of the first parliament session in Sofia on December 3, 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE / VASSIL DONEV

The Bulgarian parliament has supported a new ruling coalition, formed after the November elections by the victors, “We Continue the Change”, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, “There are such people” and democratic Bulgaria. Out of 240 deputies, 238 registered to vote, 134 voted for the new coalition, 104 against and none abstained.

The vote ended a nearly-year-long political stalemate in Bulgaria, which is now experiencing its biggest political change in more than a decade.

The country held three general elections and two presidential elections in 2021, which has seen longtime ruling party GERB and its leader Boyko Borissov lose their grip amid protests and growing corruption allegations, President Roumen Radev increasing its profile and new opposition parties becoming dominant in parliament, isolating the GERB and its allies, the United Democratic Forces and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

“Believe me: there will be zero tolerance for corruption and for every lever that goes in the wrong place,” new Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told parliament.

He highlighted the increase in the COVID-19 vaccination process in order to curb Bulgaria’s high death rate from the virus. This sparked mixed reactions in the chamber, which houses members of the far-right “Revival” pandemic denial party. Petkov ended his speech by promising that “in four years Bulgaria will be a very different place. “

The vote was preceded by a 120-page agreement, signed by the parties on Friday. The coalition was due to be announced early last week, but talks continued after the Socialist Party insisted on revisions.

Petkov’s cabinet contains several new personalities, but also retains some of the interim ministers in President Rumen Radevs’ interim government.

Who’s who in the new cabinet

Apart from Petkov, who became Prime Minister after having been Acting Minister of the Economy in 2021, and Assen Vasilev, who is back as Minister of Finance, after having occupied this post in the same cabinet, the other ministers remained unknown until Friday evening.

“We are pursuing change” will control several key ministries. The President of the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union, Asena Serbezova, is the new Minister of Health.

“A lot of things in the system are rigid and dogmatic and have no added value in the 21st century, especially in a country that supposedly wants modern health care,” Serbezova told the newspaper on Monday. Weekly in the capital.

Nickolay Sabev, owner of one of Bulgaria’s leading shipping companies, will head the Ministry of Transport. Daniel Lorer, who has experience in IT and venture capital firms and is also engaged with the Jewish community, will lead the new Ministry of Innovation and Growth.

Special attention was paid to new Culture Minister Atanas Atanassov, 31, a talented former tennis player who majored in theater at Whitman College in the United States before living in London and Berlin.

He is known for the international theater festival that he organizes in the village of Tatarevo. His appointment has received mixed reactions in the arts and culture community, as some are critical for his lack of professional experience in the fields. Others welcomed the change.

The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Energy and Sports will be led by little-known representatives of ‘There’s Such People’, the winners of the July elections, who then lost the company’s confidence after controversial decisions and contempt. parliamentary rules. Neither post involves the two party leaders, famous TV showman Slavi Trifonov and his longtime collaborator Toshko Yordanov.

Members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party have become ministers of some of the most important resource institutions: the ministries of agriculture, economy, tourism, labor and social policy.

Interim Minister of Education and Science since May Nickolay Denkov will remain in office. “It’s about whether the parties can work as a team; if we can do that, we can complete the four-year term, ”Denkov told bTV on Sunday evening.

Stefan Yanev, acting Prime Minister since the spring, will be part of the cabinet again, as Minister of Defense, a post he held in 2017.

Minister of the Interior Boyko Rachkov, committed to denounce the misdeeds of the former GERB governments and former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, will retain his post.

Democratic Bulgaria has three ministers on the list: Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanov, Borislav Sandov who will be in charge of the environment, and computer scientist and blogger Bozhidar Bozhanov, who will head the new Ministry of Electronic Management.

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