December 15, 2015 / 1:15 PM / 3 years ago

Right-wing coalition partner affirms support for Bulgarian government

SOFIA (Reuters) - A right-wing alliance that forms part of Bulgaria’s ruling coalition confirmed its support for Prime Minister Boiko Borisov’s minority government on Tuesday, averting an immediate political crisis despite disagreements over judicial reforms.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov looks on after a session of the parliament in Sofia November 7, 2014. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

“Reformist Bloc confirms its participation in the ruling coalition,” the alliance said in a statement.

The Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB), one of five small pro-business parties that make up the Reformist Bloc, withdrew its support for the government last Wednesday when parliament watered down changes in the constitution aimed at overhauling the corruption-riddled judiciary.

The reformists said they were concerned over lack of progress in combating corruption and unity over the judicial reforms, and said they will demand a review of the effort.

The changes in the constitution, which included boost the independence of judges, prompted the resignation of the justice minister.

A new justice minister is expected to be nominated this week after talks between the ruling center-right GERB party and the Reformist Bloc.

“I do not expect any government shake-up in the next three months although it is unclear what will be its policy from now on,” Daniel Smilov, a political analyst at the Sofia-based Center for Liberal Strategies.

Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest country, is on its fifth government since 2013, and is trying to return to growth and improve low living standards. But widespread corruption is crippling progress.

Last week, Borisov, whose minority government came to power last November on reform pledges, said Bulgaria might have to hold elections as early as February, as well as presidential polls, if the reformists decided to quit.

The Reformist Bloc, formally founded as a political coalition in late 2013, won 8.9 percent of the vote at the parliamentary elections in October 2014, winning 23 seats in the national assembly. It also won one of Bulgaria’s 17 European Parliament seats in May 2014.

Borisov’s government, which took office last November, lacks an outright majority and relies on the support of center-left ABV party and nationalist Patriotic Front to stay in power.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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