Kiril Petkov: Bulgarian centrist leader chosen by parliament as next prime minister

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Bulgaria’s parliament has formally voted to elect Kiril Petkov as the country’s next prime minister, ending a months-long political crisis.

MPs elected the 41-year-old centrist leader by 134 votes to 104 during a session on Monday.

In a separate vote, lawmakers also approved the country’s new centrist-led government – a coalition led by Petkov’s anti-corruption We Continue The Change party (PP) and three political groups.

The PP, the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, the anti-elite There Is Such A People party, and the liberal group Democratic Bulgaria together control 134 seats in Bulgaria’s 240-seat parliament.

The country has endured eight months of political standoff including three general elections.

At the last vote in November, Petkov’s PP party emerged as surprise victors over the conservative GERB party, which dominated Bulgarian politics in the last decade.

Petkov – a Harvard-educated entrepreneur – previously served as minister of economics in Bulgaria’s caretaker government.

On Monday, he announced that transparency in public spending, zero tolerance for corruption, and reforms in the judiciary will be the keystones of his Cabinet.

Petkov also pledged to keep Bulgaria on a pro-European and pro-NATO track.

“What we will govern is not our money, but that of all Bulgarian citizens,” Petkov told reporters in Sofia after presenting his government.

Other priorities of the new government include tackling the demographic crisis, the rising cost of living, and the slow COVID-19 coronavirus vaccination rate.

“I am convinced that after four years Bulgaria will be a totally different place,” Petkov said.

Less than 30 percent of Bulgaria’s adult population have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus – the lowest rate in the European Union.

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