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Bulgarian government faces third no-confidence vote

Source: Reuters - Thu, 6 Feb 2014 11:30 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Socialist-led government likely to survive

* But weakened by unrest, unable to tackle reforms

By Angel Krasimirov

SOFIA, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's Socialist-led government faces its third no confidence vote in four months and is likely to survive it but the unpopular administration will remain under pressure after being impaired by daily unrest last year.

The main opposition GERB party called on Thursday for the vote, accusing the government of failing to deal with a sudden influx of more than 10,000 refugees as well as a rise in crime and smuggling in the European Union's poorest country.

Parliament has yet to announce when the vote will take place but it must be held within a week of its submission.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's government looked late last year as though it could fall at any moment as tens of thousands took to the streets in constant anti-corruption demonstrations.

The protests have died down and the government, which came to power last year, may well hang on at least until European Parliament elections in May. But the unrest stripped the government of clout to reform the corrupt political system or the slow and inefficient judiciary.

The coalition of the Socialists and the ethnic Turkish MRF party is one seat short of a majority in the 240-member parliament but enjoys the unofficial support of the nationalist Attack grouping, which has 23 deputies.

In order to be successful, the no-confidence motion has to be backed by at least 121 lawmakers; GERB has 95.

Political analysts called the no-confidence move frivolous.

"GERB continues to submit no-confidence motions on useless issues and this could devalue the act," said Kancho Stoichev, an analyst with pollster Gallup.

More than 10,000 people, mainly from civil war-torn Syria, sought asylum in the Balkan state last year, a sharp rise from 1,380 in 2012.

The centre-right GERB's leader, former prime minister Boiko Borisov, said the government had not properly tracked them.

"It seems they (the refugees) vanished into thin air," he said last week. "But they did not vanish into thin air - they are in towns, in mosques, here."

Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev in turn accused the previous government, led by Borisov, of having failed to secure enough EU funding to cope with the influx. (Editing by Matthias Williams and Mark Heinrich)

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