Member of Parliament Mario Tagarinski quit the Order, Law and Justice (OLJ) party caucus, leaving it with nine members – one less than required for forming a parliamentary group. All 10 former members of the OLJ group are now considered independents. The loss of status means the OLJ no longer has the right to appoint the chairman of the Committee on Anti-Corruption, Conflicts of Interest and Parliamentary Ethics, currently headed by party leader Yane Yanev.
Analysis and forecast: decreasing risk
Yanev accused Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of “stealing” his MPs. It appears he thinks Borisov is trying to persuade MPs to defect so that the ruling Citizens for the Democratic Development of Bulgaria (GERB) can reach an absolute majority in the 240-seat National Assembly (GERB is currently five seats short.) Independent MPs are welcome to support the government but cannot legally join the GERB group. Should GERB manage to form a stable majority, it will no longer be at the mercy of smaller right-wing parties that expect the government to fulfil their demands in exchange for votes. This may mean trouble for the Blue Coaltion, a union of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria and Union of Democratic Forces parties: They had been hoping to parlay their support for GERB into executive positions in government. The same goes for the nationalist Ataka (“attack”) party.
During a special briefing, the OLJ’s Yanev demanded that Borisov re-establish the OLJ parliamentary group or face a “domestic and international counter-attack” – obviously a threat to discredit the government. After a series of talks between Borisov and Yanev, the OLJ’s press department explained that the “counter-attack” will be against the defector Tagarinski, not the prime minister or his government. Yanev emerged from the debacle discredited and humiliated. His popularity will likely suffer.