Bulgarian parliament accepts government's resignation

Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:29am EST
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By Michael Winfrey and Tsvetelia Tsolova

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's parliament on Thursday accepted the government's decision to resign in the face of anti-austerity protests, leaving the European Union's poorest state with political uncertainty that may persist beyond early elections.

Outgoing Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, who had won praise from investors by cutting the Balkan country's budget deficit, lost support among voters weary of persistent poverty and graft. Those voters may now seek solace from more populist politicians.

After mass protests set off by high energy bills, Borisov stepped down on Wednesday -- the latest administration to fall in Europe's four-year-old debt crisis.

Parliament voted on Thursday to accept the move and President Rosen Plevneliev will now ask the three biggest parties if they want to form a government to rule until a parliamentary election due in July.

But both Borisov's GERB party and the main opposition Socialists have said they have no interest in participating in a caretaker cabinet, and analysts say that means Plevneliev could schedule an election for as early as April.

"Big change can come only through new elections, which should come as soon as possible," said Socialist leader Sergei Stanishev.

The cabinet's departure brought calm after a chaotic week of rallies against the government and foreign-owned power utilities and a threat by Bulgarian officials to strip one of them, Czech power group CEZ, of its license.

Boriana Dimitrova, an analyst with pollster Alpha Research, said it could push voters towards the political fringe.   Continued...

Outgoing Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov waves to supporters outside the parliament in Sofia February 21, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov