Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on December 3 to approve Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s nomination of Denitsa Sacheva as Minister of Labour and Social Policy, replacing Bisser Petkov in that portfolio.
Petkov stepped down on November 29, his resignation requested by Borissov and accepted on the same day. A terse government statement said that it was not due to one immediate issue, but “based on reasons accumulated over time.”
It gave no further details about those reasons, but the statement said that Borissov “believes that the speed at which the Labour and Social Policy Ministry is working does not meet social and political expectations.”
Over the weekend, Borissov nominated Sacheva, who had previously served as deputy labour minister but was most recently deputy education minister.
The appointment of Sacheva was approved by 114 votes in favour and 106 against, with three abstentions. The votes in favour came from MPs for Borissov’s GERB and the two ultra-nationalist parties that make up the junior partner in the ruling coalition.
The opposition parties – the socialists and predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms – were joined by ultra-nationalists Ataka, whose MPs otherwise back the government, in voting against Sacheva’s appointment.
Bulgaria’s Parliament does not normally sit on Tuesdays, but it scheduled a special sitting on December 3 to debate and vote the 2019 healthcare and social security budgets. The process is normally a lengthy one and the bills’ passage would not have been helped by the two-hour debate that preceded the vote on Sacheva’s appointment.
Socialist MPs criticised the reshuffle, with party leader Kornelia Ninova pointing out that it was the eighth ministerial change in the current administration, Borissov’s third as prime minister.
The now-habitual exchanges of accusations and counter-accusations followed, with the opposition MPs expanding their criticism not only to the government’s social policies, but education as well, given Sacheva’s previous government position.
(Denitsa Sacheva takes her oath of office in the National Assembly on December 3. Photo: parliament.bg)