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Four Bulgarian parties agree to form centrist-led government

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By AP
Kiril Petkov, co-leader of the We Continue the Change party, seen at the first session of the new Bulgarian Parliament,Sofia, Dec. 3, 2021.
Kiril Petkov, co-leader of the We Continue the Change party, seen at the first session of the new Bulgarian Parliament,Sofia, Dec. 3, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Valentina Petrova

The leaders of four Bulgarian parties on Friday said they've agreed to form a centrist-led coalition that would end a months-long political crisis, giving a country beset by economic and health problems its first regular government since April.

The agreement followed lengthy talks between the winner of last month’s general election, the centrist We Continue the Change (PP) party, two right-leaning parties and a Socialist party.

Combined, the four parties will control 134 seats in Bulgaria's 240-seat parliament, which is set to vote on approving the new government on Monday.

Under the agreement, PP leader Kiril Petkov, 41, will be the coalition's nominee for prime minister, tasked with steering European Union member Bulgaria out of a twin health and economic crisis.

“We are moving towards proposing a stable government, which we hope will continue for the next four years,” Petkov said.

The Balkan country of 7 million has one of the world's fastest-shrinking populations, the highest income inequality in the EU, and the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the 27-nation bloc.

Petkov and PP co-chair Asen Vasilev, 44, who served as ministers of economics and of finance in the previous caretaker cabinet, have highlighted addressing misuse of state funds in a series of proposed anti-graft actions, which earned them wide public approval.

The two Harvard-educated politicians hope to make transparency, zero tolerance for corruption and reforms to key sectors the keystones of their future government programme. During the coalition talks, which were held for the first time in public, it was confirmed that the NATO member’s foreign policy will remain unchanged.

Bulgaria hasn't had a regular government since April, when the GERB party of three-time prime minister Boyko Borissov was edged out of power.