Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has set Oct. 2 as the date for the country’s fourth parliamentary election in less than two years, after the collapse of reformist Prime Minister Kirill Petkov’s coalition government.
Radev also appointed former labor minister Gulab Donov to head a caretaker government until a new one is formed after the elections. Radev will present the new government’s priorities tomorrow, according to a statement from his office.
In Bulgaria, an EU member country facing high inflation, there are concerns about gas supplies and other consequences of the war in Ukraine.
The appointment of 55-year-old Donov, the president’s adviser on social policies, is for some a sign that the caretaker government’s priority will be to shield households against rising energy and food prices. This may include efforts to resume Russian gas imports as well as restore diplomatic relations, which have been strained under Petkov’s administration.
Petkov expelled 70 Russian diplomats amid espionage concerns and refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles, prompting Moscow to cut off supplies to a country almost entirely dependent on Russian gas.
His government, which had pledged to crack down on widespread corruption and criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was toppled in a no-confidence vote just six months after taking office.
Three attempts to secure a majority for a new government have since failed, exacerbating the political crisis, which could jeopardize billions of euros in European recovery funds and derail the country’s plans to adopt the euro from in 2024.
The new government will also have to deal with uncertainty over gas supplies ahead of winter as the EU prepares for further disruptions to gas flows from Russia.
Polls suggest another divided parliament is likely to emerge from the polls, with Petkov’s centrist PP party neck-and-neck with former prime minister Boyko Borissov’s center-right GERB party.
Polls also show that for now the parties in Petkov’s outgoing coalition have little chance of regaining a majority while recording an increase in voter support for nationalist and pro-Russian parties.
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