Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov arrives for a European Council… (Yoan Valat, EPA )
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov offered to step down after anti-government protests sparked street violence four months before parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place.
The premier, who has been in office since 2009, told the Sofia-based assembly he will submit his resignation before lawmakers were scheduled to vote on Cabinet changes involving the replacement of Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, who was dismissed on Feb. 18.
“We won’t be making any Cabinet changes,” Borissov said. “I will tender my resignation after we end the Cabinet meeting at noon today.”
Bulgarian police clashed with protesters demanding higher wages and the government’s resignation in the capital Sofia late yesterday. Dozens were injured and 25 people were detained as protesters threw stones, paint and fire crackers against the police, smashed windows and damaged cars, Chief Commissioner Valeri Yordanov said in an interview with Bulgarian National Radio today.
The yield on Bulgaria’s euro-denominated government bond due 2017 rose 0.01 basis point to 2.0585 percent at 9:53 a.m. in Sofia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Borissov can either propose a new Cabinet leader from his party, Gerb, or give the president the option to appoint an interim government and call for early elections, said Parvan Simeonov, a political scientist at Gallup BBSS in Sofia, by phone today.
“We have yet to see what options Mr. Borissov will choose,” Simeonov said.
Borissov also said he won’t rule in a coalition with other parties and won’t be part of an interim government.
Bulgaria navigated the global economic crisis without borrowing abroad. The economy of the European Union’s poorest country by per-capita output expanded 0.5 percent from a year earlier in the three months through December, the 10th quarter of growth.
Higher electricity and heating bills caused by cold weather combined with low wages and rising unemployment triggered nationwide protests against energy utilities on Feb. 9, which escalated into anti-government protests on Feb. 17.
“I did everything in my power to meet the people’s demands yesterday,” Borissov told lawmakers. “I won’t be part of government in which the police is fighting with the people.”
Borissov yesterday said he wants to revoke the power distribution license of CEZ AS, the Czech biggest utility after a financial inspection found “evasion” of public procurement laws. He also asked the energy regulator to cut power prices by 8 percent from March 1.
The government also transferred 840 million lev ($573 million) from the fiscal reserve to pay farm subsidies on that the EU will reimburse within 45 days, the Agriculture Ministry in Sofia said Feb. 18, to stop a farmers’ protest planned for yesterday.
The Finance Ministry had delayed the payments from Jan. 31 because of a lack of funds after Bulgaria repaid 835 million euros of bonds that matured Jan. 15.
The Finance Ministry plans to hold an auction today for six-month government securities worth 840 million lev, about 85 percent of the total amount of domestic debt envisaged in this year’s budget, to compensate for the payment.
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