Bulgaria Opposition Receives Mandate as Coalition Talks Stall

Kiril Petkov speaks to media as he arrives for an EU-Western Balkans leaders' meeting in Brussels, 23 June 2022.  Photo: EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

A week ago, the reformist party and ex-PM Boyko Borissov's GERB hatched an unexpected deal to form an 18-month cabinet, first headed by the WCC's Nickolay Denkov for nine months and then by GERB's Mariya Gabriel.

The format was agreed as a way for Bulgaria to exit a prolonged political stalemate and a two-year election cycle.

In another twist, however, on Monday, negotiations between WCC and GERB stalled after an audio from a WCC members meeting was leaked on May 26 by Radostin Vassilev, an MP who a year ago joined WCC after leaving "There's Such a People".

At the time, he was Sports Minister in Kiril Petkov's short-lived 2021-2022 cabinet. Now Vassilev has turned his back on his current party, too. 

On Monday, he said he leaked the recordings because WCC co-leaders Petkov and Assen Vassilev were "shamefully" undermining Bulgaria's independence by collaborating with "foreign embassies". He denounced this activity by his former party as a "threat to national security". Vassilev said that he had recorded the Zoom meeting from May 21 on his "son's iPad". 

However, there is little actual substance in the leaked footage.

In the four-hour recording, the WCC leaders refer to Borissov as collaborating with them only out of "fear" of potential actions by President Radev and Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev - who recently abandoned his longtime support for Borissov. 

Petkov refers to GERB  as "the big evil" and is ironic about their proposed format of shared governance: "We can make ourselves look a bit foolish on TV and talk some nonsense about all of this being a 'gentlemen's...

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