SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s new parliament convened Friday for its first session following the country's third parliamentary election of the year.
A newly formed anti-corruption party led by two Harvard University graduates emerged as the surprise winner of last month's snap election, edging out the GERB party of three-time prime minister Boyko Borissov.
Under the terms of the Bulgarian Constitution, the country’s president will give the We Continue The Change party the mandate to form a government.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, who was reelected to a second five-year term, told lawmakers he would start consultations Monday with the political groups in parliament about the creation of a new Cabinet.
On Friday, lawmakers voted to 158-1 with 78 abstentions to approve We Continue The Change party's nominee for parliament speaker, Nikola Minchev, a 34-year-old lawyer.
The co-leader of We Continue the Change, Kiril Petkov, said he was ready to assume the post of prime minister if he gets support from potential coalition partners.
Although his party won the most parliament seats last month with 67, it fell well short of the majority of the 240-seat chamber needed to form a government on its own.
Six other parties also won seats, including Borissov’s GERB, with 59. The ethnic Turkish MRF party came in third with 34 seats, followed by the Socialist party with 26 seats. The anti-elite There Is Such a People party secured 25 seats, the liberal anti-corruption group Democratic Bulgaria occupies 16 seats and the pro-Russian nationalist group Vazrazhdane has 13 legislators.
Ahead of the election, Petkov firmly rejected the prospect of forming a coalition government with GERB party or the MRF party due to lingering suspicions about their ties to corruption.
Bulgaria, the poorest nation in the European Union, also held inconclusive general elections in April and July, but political leaders could not agree on a new government.
The president said Friday that a consensus among reformist forces is needed. He added that the country’s political system could not withstand another early election in the middle of winter.