SOFIA -- Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev has given a third and final mandate to form a government to the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) after two other political parties gave up efforts to set up a coalition following last month's inconclusive vote.
If the third attempt to build a majority in the fractured parliament fails, as expected, Radev will have to dissolve parliament, appoint an interim government, and call new polls within two months -- the third this year.
"We know we are facing a test as a nation. We will try everything," BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said after receiving the mandate on August 27.
The prolonged political uncertainty could hamper the European Union's poorest member state's ability to effectively deal with a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and tap the bloc’s multibillion-euro coronavirus recovery fund.
In the July 11 elections, the BSP won 36 seats in Bulgaria's fragmented 240-member parliament -- behind the There Is Such A People (ITN) party’s 65 seats and the center-right GERB party’s 63 seats.
The GERB party of former long-serving Prime Minister Boyko Borisov returned a mandate to the president on August 20, after the antiestablishment ITN party failed to form a minority government.
Many politicians are already considering holding this year’s third parliamentary elections together with the presidential polls.
Some members of parliament have said that if a third attempt fails, as most analysts expect, general elections and the first round of a presidential vote should be held together on November 7.
An April general election also resulted in a deadlocked parliament that failed to produce a government, forcing Radev to appoint a caretaker cabinet to lead the Balkan country until the July elections were held.