SOFIA (Bulgaria), July 1 (SeeNews) - Bulgarian president Rumen Radev said on Friday that he mandated the centre-right We Continue the Change (WCC) party to put together a new cabinet, as the governing coalition it led resigned earlier this week after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament.
Radev handed the mandate to outgoing finance minister and WCC's prime minister-designate Assen Vassilev at a ceremony broadcast live by public television BNT.
"Bulgaria is in a political, economic and social crisis, with rising prices and instability, while reforms and the national Recovery and Reconstruction Plan are still awaiting action and as of yesterday, we have a foreign policy crisis on our hands," the president said, referring to the tension between the government and the Russian ambassador following this week's decision of the outgoing government to expel 70 Russian diplomats suspected of acting as foreign agents.
Vassilev now has seven days to try to form a new government coalition that will have the support of at least 121 of 240 members of parliament.
WCC, led by outgoing prime minister Kiril Petkov, will hold talks with Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and anti-status quo party Democratic Bulgaria - two of their partners in the coalition that collapsed after the third one, populist formation There Is Such a People (TISP), withdrew its ministers from the government.
Earlier on Friday, Petkov said that his party will propose a new cabinet only if convinced of the support of an absolute majority of MPs.
WCC currently has 69 MPs in the National Assembly, while GERB-UDF led by former prime minister Boyko Borissov have 59, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) has 34, BSP has 26, Democratic Bulgaria has 16 and populist Revival party has 12. There are also seven independent MPs, who broke away from TISP when it left the coalition earlier this month.
Last week, the governing coalition led by Petkov lost a no-confidence motion filed by GERB after a total of 123 MPs out of 239 voting backed the motion.
If Vassilev fails to form a government, the president will then ask the second biggest party - GERB, to try to put together a cabinet. If GERB is unsuccessful, the president will pass the mandate to a third political formation of his choosing. Failing that, the president will appoint a caretaker cabinet and call snap general elections.