SOFIA -- Bulgarian President Rumen Radev says he will give a third and last 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 a 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.
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 premier Boyko Borisov returned a mandate to the president on August 20, after the antiestablishment ITN party failed to form a minority government.
Radev now has to ask a third party of his choosing to try to form a cabinet, but analysts say the chances anyone will be able to build a majority in parliament are very small.
Many politicians are already considering holding this year’s third parliamentary elections together with the presidential polls.
The dates have not been set yet, but many members of parliament suggest holding the general elections and the first round of the presidential vote on November 7, with a second round of voting for president on November 14.
April general elections 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.