SOFIA -- Bulgaria's political crisis has deepened, moving the country closer to its third parliamentary elections this year, after GERB became the second political party to give up efforts to form a new government since last month's inconclusive vote.
The center-right GERB party's choice for prime minister, Daniel Mitov, returned a mandate to the president on August 20, prolonging the crisis and leaving few options to avoid fresh elections.
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.
President Rumen Radev had asked GERB, the party of former long-serving Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, to try and lead the country after an antiestablishment party that narrowly won the July 11 polls gave up efforts to form a minority government.
With just 63 seats in the 240-member parliament, just behind the There Is Such a People (ITN) party's 65 seats, GERB is well short of a majority and other parties have refused to cooperate with it.
On August 10, ITN decided not to propose a government after two other protest parties said they would not support it.
Radev will now have to ask a third party of his choosing to try and form a cabinet, but analysts say the chances anyone will be able to build a majority in the fractured parliament are very small.
If a third attempt to form a government fails, as expected, Radev will have to dissolve parliament once again, appoint an interim government, and call new polls within two months.
An April 4 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 election was held.