Anti-corruption coalition likely to form government in Bulgaria

The anti-corruption big tent ‘There Is Such a People’ (ITN) party, led by celebrity singer Slavi Trifonov, emerged as the single largest party in the parliamentary elections held on July 11. No party or coalition was able to achieve a simple majority

July 19, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Bulgarian Elections 2021
Slavi Trifonov, Bulgarian celebrity and leader of the ‘There Is Such a People’ (ITN) party. (Photo: via Facebook)

Following the snap elections to the Bulgarian parliament held on July 11, the second in the past 100 days, the populist big tent, the There Is Such a People’ (ITN) party, has hinted its willingness to cooperate with other anti-corruption parties to form a coalition government, as per reports. The elections took place amid lingering political uncertainty after no party or coalition was able to form a government following the parliamentary elections of April 2021.

As per the results, the ITN emerged as the single largest party in the 240-seat Bulgarian parliament with 23.78% votes and 65 seats, narrowly ahead of the conservative GERB-SDS coalition which secured 23.21% and 63 seats. No party or coalition was able to achieve a simple majority.

On July 15, the ITN leadership withdrew its early nomination to form a single party minority government in the country and announced that they will file a new nomination with a revised composition of the cabinet. The ITN’s earlier decision to form a single party minority government had been criticized by many sections. According to critics, the formation of a minority government will lead to another election soon.

The ITN has proposed establishment politician Nikolay Vasilev as the prime minister, which has been criticized by many sections citing the ITN’s anti-establishment programs and agenda. According to reports, chances are that the ITN may enter into a coalition with two other anti-corruption parties, Democratic Bulgaria (34 seats) and Stand Up! Mafia, Get Out! (13 seats), but may still fall nine seats short of the simple majority of 121 seats.

The ITN is led by Bulgarian singer and celebrity Slavi Trifonov. It was established in February 2020 and shot to prominence during the massive anti-corruption protests in 2020-2021 against the conservative coalition government led by GERB leader Boyko Borisov. Borisov was in power in Bulgaria from 2009 till 2021 May. Under his regime, attacks on the press, racism, xenophobia, corruption, and organized crime spiked in the country. The anti-corruption protests which started in July 2020 demanding Borisov’s resignation ended only in April 2021 when the four-year term of his cabinet ended with the formal resignation of the third Borisov government.

The major opposition coalition led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) faced disappointment in the recent elections, losing seven seats and is now confined to 36 seats in the new parliament. The BSP fought the elections as part of a coalition including the Communist Party of Bulgaria (KPB), the Bulgarian left, and others. BSP leader Korneliya Ninova said that “It’s disturbing that the next parliament starts with very low legitimacy. There should be a regular government to start resolving pressing issues.”