Bulgaria News in brief

Bulgaria appoints interim PM, calls October election

| 2022-08-02 2 min read

Bulgaria appoints interim PM, calls October election

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bulgarian voters are set to go to the polls for the fourth time in two years after President Rumen Radev called an election for 2 October and then appointed a caretaker government on Tuesday.

Galab Donev, a former employment minister began his two-month stint as interim prime minister on Tuesday, after Radev appointed him to the post the previous day. As well as serving in several employment ministry positions, Donev has been Radev’s social policy and health care advisor since 2017.

After being sworn in, Donev, 55, said: “There are months of heated political passions ahead – we have a task to restore the good tone and productive dialogue.” He outlined the most pressing tasks as energy prices, inflation, and the stalled repairs and maintenance of roads in the country.

The announcement comes in the wake of the collapse of the centrist, pro-EU govenment led by Harvard graduate Kiril Petkov in June.

Political newcomer Petkov led Bulgaria for less than eight months, after winning an election on an anti-corruption ticket. Bulgaria is the EU’s poorest country, and is also frequently ranked as having its highest levels of graft.

After Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, Petkov took an strong line against the Kremlin, only to lose a confidence vote in June after one of We Continue the Change’s three partners left the four-party coalition. 

After the toppling of Petkov, the Bulgarian Socialist Party was handed a mandate to form a government, but failed to do so and officially returned it to Radev last Thursday.

The outgoing premier Petkov wrote in late July that “our government introduced critical reforms in the short six-month window of opportunity. Achieving sustainable anti-corruption reform is a long and difficult journey. 

“This is why we are seeking to strengthen cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) as part of a package of essential amendments to Bulgaria’s anti-corruption legislative framework.

“Our government has taken decisive steps in this direction in the past months. For example, the Council of Ministers became a direct contact point for reports from Bulgarian citizens about potential criminal activity to be channeled to the EPPO,” Petkov wrote on fcpa.com.

This is the fourth time Bulgaria will be governed by a caretaker cabinet, three of which have been in the last two years. Several members of the 2021 administration to which Donev belonged will take up roles in the interim government.

The election battle is likely to be tight, with Petkov’s We Continue the Change party now closing in on former prime minister Boyko Borissov’s right-wing GERB party, which had ruled for nearly a decade before the recent political turmoil, in the polls.