Bulgaria faces minority coalition as talks fail Reuters - 2005/7/22
Bulgaria’s Socialists looked set to lead a minority government on Friday after ex-king Simeon Saxe-Coburg’ s centrists refused to join a coalition, a move that could complicate the country’s efforts to join the EU in 2007.

The Socialists will now try to form a minority government with their ethnic-Turkish allies, but the coalition will still be five votes short of a majority in the 240-seat parliament.

The minority government must start pushing through reforms by autumn, when the European Union will evaluate whether Bulgaria will be ready to join 2007 or must wait until 2008.

The Socialists won June 25 elections but fell short of a majority and have been in coalition talks with the centrists, which failed mainly over demands that Saxe-Coburg, Europe’s only royal elected prime minister, keep a leading role in government.

“We will not participate in the coalition that has been discussed Saxe-Coburg told reporters following a meeting of his party’s parliamentary group.

The Socialists and their ethnic Turk allies insist they have poached enough votes from individual deputies to back them.

“We will go ahead and form a government. I am convinced that there are enough responsible deputies who will make their choice and defend the priorities of Bulgaria,” deputy Socialist leader Rumen Petkov told Reuters.

Saxe-Coburg, whose staunchly pro-accession government has been hailed by investors and analysts as Bulgaria’s best since the fall of communism in 1989, indicated he would not battle with the Socialists over EU-related issues.

“We will back the next government, in moments when it is possible to defend national interests,” he said.

But analysts said the centrists” decision to stay in opposition could pose complications, even if a minority government had a good chance of surviving in the medium term.

“From the point of view of EU accession, it’s not very good news. It would have been better to have a grand coalition,” said Ognian Shentov, head of the Centre for the Study of Democracy.

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