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Bulgaria: Socialists Expect Mandate To Form Government Today

Sofia, 27 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Leaders of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) tell RFE/RL that they expect to be handed a mandate to form a new government today by President Petar Stoyanov.

Socialist Party leader Georgy Parvanov and the Party's choice for Prime Minister, Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev, held talks with Stoyanov yesterday, as did opposition leaders. More consultations are scheduled today.

Opposition demonstrations against the Socialists -- the former communists -- are now in their fourth week. The opposition has demanded a caretaker government be formed, and early elections be held.

Stoyanov has sought to mediate an accord between the BSP and opposition, but has said he is constitutionally required to offer the BSP a mandate to form a new government. And Stoyanov is preparing to leave for Brussels as early as tomorrow on his first foreign trip since taking office.

Labor unions have started strikes across the country, and have said strikes will intensify if a mandate is given to the Socialists.

Dobrev's Party program, which he has said will require "broad political support," was published today. It calls for measures to rapidly stabilize the economy and a campaign against organized crime.