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Wild Bulgarian election rhetoric will abate in office

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Subject

Borisov’s third administration.

Significance

The government approved by parliament on May 4 is Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s third since 2009. It is the first time his Citizens for Bulgaria’s European Development (GERB) party has joined in formal coalition with United Patriots (OB), a bloc comprising three nationalist parties. Two OB leaders, Krasimir Karakachanov and Valery Simeonov, are deputy prime ministers, but only the former combines this position with a portfolio (defence). OB’s third and most controversial leader -- Ataka party leader Volen Siderov, noted previously for rabid anti-NATO and pro-Putin statements -- has no formal government role.

Impacts

  • GERB has reaffirmed its domination of Bulgarian politics with minimal concessions to its formal coalition partners.
  • The spectre of increased Russian influence over Bulgarian politics that worried some EU partners has seemingly dissipated.
  • A firmer line against migration is likely as a sop to OB, but meaningful reform of the judiciary will again be strenuously avoided.
  • Sofia’s worries about Turkey and the Western Balkans and its forthcoming EU presidency may make it more amenable to EU influence and advice.
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