Bulgaria's GERB seeks technocrat govt but parliament unwilling

FILE PHOTO: President of the European Council Charles Michel talks with Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev during a family photo at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Tirana, Albania, December 6, 2022. REUTERS/Florion Goga/File Photo

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's prime minister-designate Nikolay Gabrovski of the centre-right GERB party proposed forming a technocrat government to lead the Balkan country out of stalemate on Monday, but he faces a tough task finding support in a hung parliament.

GERB won an Oct. 2 snap election, the fourth in 18 months, but it has failed so far to secure majority backing for a technocrat government to be led by Gabrovski.

Failure to form a regular government would weigh on Bulgaria's plans to join the euro zone in 2024, which would bring in billions of euros in EU recovery funds. It would also hamper efforts to compile a comprehensive 2023 budget amid high inflation and a looming economic slowdown.

Political analysts say the chances of a GERB-led government being formed, even a technocrat administration, remain slim. They see a possible agreement only on a government under a different party with a limited timeline - or a further snap poll in the spring.

"My main goal will be to de-escalate the tensions..., but mainly for us to go together and bring Bulgaria out of the crisis it is in," Gabrovski told President Rumen Radev when submitting his proposed cabinet on Monday.

"I am confident the proposed ministers are capable of doing that," he said.

GERB proposed Gabrovski, a 51-year-old neurosurgeon with no political experience, as prime minister in an attempt to win support. But four out of seven political parties in parliament have said they will not back him.

The anti-graft PP party and Democratic Bulgaria as well as the Socialists, who accuse GERB of failure to tackle widespread corruption during its decade in office, have said they will not back a cabinet under GERB's mandate.

Radev said he would ask parliament to vote on Gabrovski's proposed cabinet this week.

For foreign minister, Gabrovski nominated Dragomir Zakov, a former defence minister and ambassador to NATO who has advocated Bulgaria's support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion.

Marinela Petrova, a former deputy finance minister, would be in charge of state finances.

If GERB fails, there can be two more attempts to form a government. If they also fail, the president has to call a snap poll within two months.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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