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Bulgaria’s GERB Party Given ‘Doomed’ Mandate to Govern

President Rumen Radev on Monday gave ex-premier Boyko Borissov’s GERB party and designated Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel a mandate to form a new government.

Gabriel said she wants to build a collaborative cabinet with the party’s opponents by finding common goals – although any warming of relations between the opposition and GERB remains unlikely.

“My proposal would be for an expert government, one that is united around clear priorities that have a single goal – the well-being of Bulgarian citizens”, said Gabriel. Also on Monday, Gabriel left her previous position as a EU Commissioner.

However the Bulgarian Socialist Party stated the same day that it will not enter coalition talks with GERB, leaving the party with no chance of mustering a majority in parliament.

In a surprise development on Monday, GERB was also criticised by its former ally, Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev, for being “a political mafia” .

GERB, running alongside the United Democratic Forces, won the inconclusive April 2 elections with 26.5 per cent of the vote, slightly ahead of the We Continue the Change/Democratic Bulgaria alliance led by reformist ex-premier Kiril Petkov on 24.5 per cent.

If GERB returns the mandate without forming a government, the president will hand it to Petkov’s alliance.

Since the elections, Borissov has tried to lure the opposition onto his side by appearing ready to reform GERB, a party that has been hit by corruption allegations, while also promising judicial reform that would see the ousting of Chief Prosecutor Geshev, a move that was also confirmed as a future goal by Gabriel and has been demanded for years by the opposition.

Not long ago, such a move would have seemed impossible. Since being appointed in 2019, Geshev has been seen as a protector of GERB’s tarnished legacy.

From useful friend to major foe
On Monday, Geshev held a press conference at which he showed off his resignation letter and then tore it up, saying that Borissov had long been planning to get rid of him.

“It’s high time for the political garbage in parliament to be cleaned up,” Geshev said in a surprising change of heart.

Earlier this month, Geshev was allegedly the target of an assassination attempt, but numerous factual inconsistencies have raised suspicions that the failed attempt was in fact staged.

The chief prosecutor said that he will seek the ousting of National Investigation Service chief Borislav Sarafov for doubting his version of the events.

Meanwhile Sarafov has stated that he fears his life might be in danger “because I know well what Geshev might do”.

Under Geshev’s mandate, the prosecution has made no significant progress on various major cases, including allegations of corruption and money-laundering against GERB.

The prosecution also failed to act after politicians were sanctioned under the US’s Global Magnitsky Act in 2021 and in February this year.

Source: Balkan Insight