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(DF) 2021: Political Highlights

December 28 (BTA) – Four parliaments, three parliamentary elections (the last of which combined with presidential), two caretaker cabinets and, finally, a regular government at the end of the year: that was BulgariaТs political 2021 in short. Nearly seven months of political instability over the year were followed by a regular coalition government headed by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov of Continue the Change, sworn in by the National Assembly on December 13. The first three months of 2021 were also the last of the 44th National Assembly, as well as of the third (Boyko) Borissov cabinet, a coalition between GERB-UDF and the United Patriots. The next, 45th National Assembly, was short-lived, with just nine days in plenary and a single adopted piece of legislation – revisions to the Election Code. The 46th National Assembly also failed to come up with a regular government, but managed to update the 2021 budget and transferred the Witness and Magistrate Protection Bureau from the Prosecutor General to the Minister of Justice as a first step in the much-desired judicial reform. Any deeper revisions, though, require a constitutional majority of two-thirds of the MPs. One of the first decisions of the 47th National Assembly was to adopt a moratorium on energy prices until the end of March 2022, giving the new cabinet time to analyze the situation and propose a solution. The state budget for 2022 was left for the new year. April 4: Regular Parliamentary Elections The elections were won by GERB-UDF, followed by the new There Is Such a People (TISP) of Slavi Trifonov, while BSP for Bulgaria was third. Then came the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), Democratic Bulgaria and Rise Up! Thugs Out!. After GERB-UDF failed to form a cabinet with TISP and Democratic Bulgaria whom they invited as presumable partners and both refused, the hitherto ruling party returned the government-forming mandate to the President. The second political force, TISP, also did not take the responsibility (of forming a government) on grounds that it did not have its own parliamentary majority. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), too, returned the third exploratory mandate, which led to snap parliamentary elections on July 11 and the first caretaker government appointed by President Rumen Radev, with Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev as ministers of economy and finance. July 11: Extraordinary Elections In peak holiday season, the snap elections were won by TISP, filling the 46th National Assembly with the same six parties as the previous one. GERB-UDF was second, BSP for Bulgaria Ц third, then Democratic Bulgaria, MRF and Rise Up! Thugs Out! Who changed their name to Rise Up BG! Here We Come!. As the majority in support of change consisting of TISP, Democratic Bulgaria and Rise Up BG! Here We Come! did not have the 121 MPs in Parliament it needed to govern the country, what followed was two draft cabinets and a lot of negotiations, ministerial nominations withdrawn as a result of public discontent and more failed attempts to lead the country out of the parliamentary crisis. Finally, the outcome was new snap elections. November 14: Elections У2 in 1Ф The second snap elections in the year coincided with the presidential ones on November 14. The new caretaker government continued with the previous prime minister, Stefan Yanev, but former ministers Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev left it and joined the election campaign with a new political project, Continue the Change. Continue the Change won the parliamentary elections for the 47th National Assembly. The tally of new entries (seven) included Continue the Change, GERB-UDF, MRF, BSP for Bulgaria, TISP, Democratic Bulgaria and Vazrazhdane Party. Three political party leaders resigned in the wake of the elections: Korneliya Ninova of BSP, Hristo Ivanov of Democratic Bulgaria and Atanas Atanasov of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, part of the Democratic Bulgaria coalition. However, all three were authorized by their partiesТ leaderships to conduct talks for joint governance with winner Continue the Change. TISP leader Trifonov said in a Facebook post he would do everything in his power to see a government this time. Talks followed between Continue the Change and BSP, TISP and Democratic Bulgaria, all sides agree to negotiate policies first and only then ministerial appointments. Talks in 18 expert groups followed, subject by subject and broadcast online. Finally, the four partners in the future government coalition signed a coalition agreement. The coalition partners were Continue the Change, There Is Such a People, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Democratic Bulgaria. After President Rumen Radev handed an exploratory mandate to Continue the Change prime minister-designate Kiril Petkov, the later promptly returned it filled in. The new cabinet includes five deputy prime ministers, including one responsible for effective governance and four who are also ministers, as well as 19 ministries. On December 13 the new government was sworn in by the National Assembly after the MPs elected Kiril Petkov as Prime Minister and approved the structure and members of the regular government. Addressing the National Assembly, Kiril Petkov said that zero tolerance for corruption would be his government’s motto. Other priorities listed included control of national finances and European funds, as well as tackling the COVID crisis. Presidential elections Regular presidential elections were held on November 14, along with the extraordinary parliamentary ones. President Rumen Radev and Vice President Iliana Iotova won a second mandate in a runoff against Anastas Gerdjikov and Nevyana Miteva. Twenty-three presidential couples took part in the campaign. DT/BR /DT/