(original text published here: Wall Street Journal)
A senior Bulgarian official from the ruling camp has for the first time since coming to power this spring said early general elections are a possible solution to the country’s entrenched political instability, but not before European Parliament elections in May show the nation’s mood.
Until now, Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski has dodged the issue of early elections and governing officials have focused their statements on legislative goals and on speculating who is behind daily protests demanding the government’s resignation that have gripped the country for months.
As the protests continue, Mihail Mikov, chairman of Bulgaria’s parliament and a member of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, or BSP, acknowledged the possibility of the current parliament’s term ending before 2017.
“The results of the European elections will show whether there’s a need for a change of government” in Sofia, he said on TV7 on Sunday.
Mr. Mikov said the cabinet doesn’t realistically expect to rule for an entire four-year mandate, but added that the coalition hasn’t had a chance to implement its program.
“The government needs stability. We must see how the revised budget will work,” Mr. Mikov said.
Ognian Shentov, chairman of Center for Study of Democracy in Sofia, said that Mr. Mikov’s statements reflect the prevailing mood that the government can’t survive for more than a year while facing daily protests and security threats. He added that whether general elections come in tandem with European elections is a secondary issue.
Officials from Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria also known as GERB, in opposition despite being the largest political party in parliament, were not immediately available to comment, but Boyko Borisov, the party’s leader and the previous prime minister, has repeatedly been calling for early elections. He has said Bulgarian general elections could be held in tandem with the vote to the European parliament, which is scheduled between May 22 and May 25.
The BSP-led coalition government was elected in May after the right-leaning government of GERB resigned amid nationwide protests and self-immolations set off by perceived high electricity prices but mainly against poverty, corruption and a lack of democracy.
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