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Bulgaria’s Socialists try to form unlikely government

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Bulgarian President Rumen Radev asked the Socialist party on Friday to try to form a government, despite a slim chance of success, in a bid to avoid a third general election in the European Union’s poorest country this year.

The Socialists, the third largest political party in the fractured parliament after July 11 polls, will try to forge a majority and lead the Balkan country following the unsuccessful attempts by the election winner, the anti-elite ITN party and the centre-right GERB party to form a government.

Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova said she will seek talks with ITN and two small anti-graft parties that want to keep GERB, which has dominated Bulgaria’s politics in the past decade, away from power.

“We are facing two choices: either build a government to lead the people through the crises, or go to new polls,” Ninova said after taking the mandate to form a government.

Analysts, however, are sceptical that the Socialists will succeed as the previous election winner ITN has said it would not back a government in this parliament.

Strong public discontent with widespread corruption has boosted support for ITN as well as for two small anti-graft parties. But failure to agree over ministers derailed ITN’s attempt to form a functioning government.

Ninova appealed to the protest parties to agree for a cabinet that should start changes to fight high-level graft and deal efficiently with an upsurge in coronavirus infections and a potential migrant inflows from Afghanistan.

The Socialists now have seven days to name a prime minister-designate. Ninova said her party will only decide how to proceed after talks with their potential allies.

A failure to forge a majority for a government will prompt President Rumen Radev to dissolve parliament, appoint a new interim government and call a general election within two months.

The country will also hold presidential elections in November.

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