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Bulgaria’s prime minister-designate withdraws nomination due to failed political negotiations

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Bulgaria’s prime minister-designate withdrew her nomination on Monday after negotiations between two political coalitions failed, which could send the European Union’s poorest member country into a new crisis.

Maria Gabriel, a former EU commissioner, had been proposed by the largest group in parliament, the center-right GERB-UDF coalition, to form a new government. But hours ahead of her withdrawal, she and her negotiating team told reporters that it was “all over” and Bulgaria was heading to early elections.

The withdrawal follows two weeks of negotiations between GERB-UDF and the reformist coalition led by We Continue the Change over what was supposed to be an agreed-upon rotation.

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After April’s election, the political rivals struck a deal that each would hold the top job of prime minister for nine months at a time.

Under the deal, outgoing Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov of the reformist coalition stepped down on March 6 and was expected to be replaced by Gabriel, who previously served as deputy head of government and foreign minister.

The two coalitions failed in their attempt to achieve a smooth transition of power and instead accused each other of blowing up the negotiations. The talks turned into partisan wrangling over issues linked to judicial reform, leadership of the security services and the lineup of Gabriel’s Cabinet.

In a televised address late Sunday, Denkov appealed to GERB-UDF to “instead of throwing the country into chaos” keep their word, sign the agreement and vote for a government.

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