Thursday, May 18, 2017
Borisov’s third administration.
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.
- 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.