Bulgarian government faces second no-confidence vote

SOFIA Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:26am EDT

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski reacts during an interview with Reuters in his office in Sofia July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski reacts during an interview with Reuters in his office in Sofia July 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov

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SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's opposition GERB party called on Thursday for a second vote of no-confidence in the Socialist-led government in just eight days, in a move that underscores the political crisis gripping the European Union's poorest country.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's government, which has faced daily street protests almost since it took power in May, survived its first no-confidence vote on October 2. That was filed by the center-right GERB over government investment policy.

GERB's new motion targets both the government's investment and regional development policies, arguing that they will increase unemployment and hamper EU aid programs in a country where one in five lives below the poverty line.

This motion too is unlikely to succeed. The coalition of Socialists and the ethnic Turkish MRF party is one seat short of a majority in the 240-strong chamber but enjoys the unofficial support of the nationalist Attack party which has 23 deputies.

Parliament will discuss the motion next week but no date has yet been set for the vote.

GERB's move maintains pressure on a government political analysts say is unlikely to serve its full four-year mandate.

The political instability, compounded by endemic corruption and red tape, will further hinder the direct foreign investment Bulgaria needs to revive an economy that is expected to grow by only 0.6 percent this year, down from 0.8 percent in 2012.

GERB has said it will push ahead with a series of no-confidence motions and the blocking of parliamentary business in an attempt to force the government to resign.

Opinion polls show Bulgarians divided over the performance of the government. The street protests have mostly involved younger, well-educated, urban Bulgarians angry over graft and keen to see the country adopt European standards of governance.

The previous GERB government was forced to step down in February after massive protests over high utility bills.

GERB won most votes in the May election but could not find another party to form a coalition, paving the way for the second-placed Socialists to form a government.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Gareth Jones)

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