July 21, 2020 / 11:04 AM / 23 days ago

Bulgarian government survives no-confidence vote, protests continue

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s centre-right government survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday that was called during a wave of anti-corruption protests.

A general view shows the Bulgarian parliament after voting on a no-confidence motion against the government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Thousands of Bulgarians have taken part in rallies in the past two weeks, saying the government has only been going through the motions in fighting corruption while state institutions get weaker to the benefit of private interests.

Some 124 lawmakers in the 240-seat parliament opposed the fifth no-confidence motion against the coalition government since it took office in 2017, and 102 lawmakers were in favour of the motion brought by the oppositions Socialists.

Borissov, 61, has said he will consider an overhaul of his cabinet but has ruled out a snap election, saying the government must remain to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The coalition will meet in the next few days to discuss ways to address the protests in the European Union’s poorest member state.

“Every voice will be heard. Will there be changes? Yes.” Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev told reporters. “It is not enough to be better than the others. We need to be as good as the people want.”

Protesters blocked roads in front of parliament chanting “Resign” and “Jail” and vowing to continue rallies until Borissov and Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor quit.

“I want to live in a normal country that respects the rule of law, where the laws are the same for all and all can have equal opportunities,” said Veronika Florova, 28, holding a national flag.

Defending the government’s handling of the anti-corruption fight, Borissov said last week he had asked his finance, interior and economy ministers to step down to end speculation that they were under the influence of a media magnate and businessman from another political party. But he said he would not accept their resignations yet.

Borissov’s junior coalition partners have suggested one way out of the crisis would be to form a government not led by him.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Timothy Heritage

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