Bulgaria’s Rapid-Fire Political Crises Suit One Man – President Radev

This is the third time Radev has handpicked an interim government.

Last year, the president selected arguably a pro-EU caretaker cabinet, paving the way for Kiril Petkov's reformist We Continue the Change party to win the subsequent general election, only for Radev to turn against Petkov this year when he began openly supporting Ukraine, vowed the mend relations with Skopje and cut ties with Russian gas giant Gazprom, which delivers up to 90 per cent of Bulgaria's gas supply. 

With the collapse of Petkov's coalition, Bulgarian again finds itself led by another interim cabinet picked by Radev, this time with the president's own social policy adviser, Gulub Donev, at the helm. Interim or not, Donev has set about revising deals struck by Petkov's cabinet to secure gas from Azerbaijan and the US, pouring cold water on claims that a gas interconnector with Greece is almost ready and describing new negotiations with Gazprom as "inevitable".

Such actions have triggered protests in the capital, Sofia, by those who fear Bulgaria will veer again from its Western trajectory, thanks, in big part, to the outsized influence wielded by Radev.

"The absurdity of Bulgaria being ruled by essentially a single person for so long shows that something in the constitution needs to be amended, although such a thought usually adds to the arguments of those who are motivated to change it with the wrong intentions," said veteran journalist and political commentator Ivo Indzhev.

"The so-called fathers of the constitution could hardly have imagined they were handing over such an instrument of sole power," Indzhev told BIRN. "But now, in the last two years, we face a reality in which the regular government rules for less time than the president's interim...

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