Bulgaria’s parliament approves new government

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s parliament on Monday formally approved the country’s new centrist-led government in a bid to restore stability, tackle the coronavirus crisis and spur economic development in the poorest EU member country.

Lawmakers voted 134-104 to elect 41-year-old Kiril Petkov as prime minister.

In a separate vote, legislators also approved the Cabinet — a coalition between Petkov’s anti-corruption We Continue The Change party (PP) and three other left-wing and center-right groups.

Together, the PP party, leftist Bulgarian Socialist Party, the anti-elite There Is Such A People party, and the liberal group Democratic Bulgaria, will control 134 seats in Bulgaria’s 240-seat parliament.

Petkov, a Harvard-educated entrepreneur who served as minister of economics in the previous caretaker Cabinet, announced that transparency in public spending, zero tolerance for corruption and reforms in the judiciary will be the keystones of his government program.

He also pledged to keep Bulgaria on a pro-European and pro-NATO track.

“What we will govern is not our money, but that of all Bulgarian citizens,” Petkov said, and urged legislators to give their support so that “once and for all the country will have an effective judicial system.”

Other priorities of the new government include tackling the demographic crisis, the rising cost of living and boosting the slow coronavirus vaccination rate.

The country of 7 million has one of the world’s fastest-shrinking populations, as well as the highest income inequality and the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the 27-nation European Union.

“I believe that after four years Bulgaria will be a different place,” Petkov said after presenting the government program.

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