Parliamentary Elections in Bulgaria 2023

Read the briefing by Sophia Beiter here:


Watch the Short Insight on Bulgaria’s new government here:

IDM Short Insights 25: Bulgaria’s New Government: Pro-European, Yet Divided

Two months after the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, a new government has finally been formed. The conservative centre-right alliance GERB-SDS and the liberal alliance „Change Continues – Democratic Bulgaria“ will form a joint 18-month government with rotating prime ministers. First, Nikolay Denkov from the liberals will become prime minister. After nine months Mariya Gabriel from GERB-SDS will succeed him. The new Bulgarian government is expected to pursue a pro-European agenda. At the same time, the alliances will have to bridge their differences to provide long-term stability for Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s New Government: Pro-European, Yet Divided 

Bulgaria has formed a new government. For many this may come as a surprise and relief at the same time. The elections in April 2023 marked the fifth parliamentary election within a span of only 2 years. Now the winner of the election, the conservative centre-right alliance GERB-SDS, and the liberal alliance “Change Continues – Democratic Bulgaria” have reached an agreement. They will establish an 18-month joint government with rotating prime ministers. In a vote in parliament on 6 June, the government was confirmed with 131 out of 200 votes. First, the liberal’s former Education Minister, Nikolay Denkov, will assume the role of Prime Minister. After nine months he will be succeeded by former EU Commissioner Marija Gabriel from the conservative GERB-SDS.  

Bulgaria is in urgent need of stable governance. Whether the new government can provide long-term stability remains to be seen. The negotiations between the alliances were challenging. During the election campaign, the liberals firmly rejected any idea of a coalition with the conservatives. Talks even experienced a temporary freeze due to a leaked video of the liberals’ internal discussions. The deep divisions and lack of trust between the alliances are evident. But they also have some common goals. The new government will pursue a pro-European agenda. Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen and the Eurozone are expected to be among the government’s primary objectives. Both alliances also support providing military aid to Ukraine. Regarding domestic concerns, a comprehensive reform of the judiciary system and combating corruption will be given top priority. It is now up to Denkov and Gabriel to overcome their differences.  

Balkan nach Europa – sofort!

Erhard Busek (Vizekanzler a.D. und Vorsitzender des Instituts für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa – IDM in Wien) und Sebastian Schäffer (Geschäftsführer IDM) fordern die sofortige Aufnahme aller Westbalkanstaaten in die EU. Ihr Plädoyer verbinden sie mit „Gschichtln“ über Grenzen, Glauben und Grausamkeiten, über Fabeln, Frieden und Fußball. So bilden die persönlichen Erlebnisse und Erinnerungen der Autoren auch ein Zeugnis ihrer Zeit.

Pushbacks, vetoes, boycotts… What will the Schengen dispute mean for CEE?

On December 8th, Austria blocked EU members Romania and Bulgaria from joining the Schengen area, quoting fears of uncontrolled irregular migration as a main explanation. In response, in both countries, calls for a boycott of Austrian companies followed. What lies behind Austria’s veto and what consequences will it have for the EU and the region? Why can individual states block decisions of that magnitude for other EU members? Do we witness another face of Euroscepticism, in which “vetoism” is a tool of countering supranationalism? Finally, what measures should be taken to improve the decision-making processes at the EU-level? 

We discussed these and other questions together with: 

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, former Prime Minister of Romania

Vladislava Gubalova, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Global Europe, GLOBSEC Policy Institute

Daniela Apaydin, Research Associate, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe

Sebastian Schäffer, Managing Director, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe 


Malwina Talik, Research Associate, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe.

Watch the discussion here:

Parliamentary Elections in Bulgaria 2022

The whole discussion is available on the YouTube channel of the IDM:

Cross-Border Talks: Sebastian Schäffer about the consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine for the EU

Cross-border Talks‘ discussion with Sebastian Schäffer about the changes, which war in Ukraine has already brought to the EU and to its Eastern part.

Discussed topics:

– how is the Poland-Ukraine and Russia-Turkey alignment seen from the position of somebody in the German-speaking world;

– what is the role, which Bulgaria and Romania could play in the new security arrangement in Southeastern Europe; is their position out of Schengen a sign of certain unclarity regarding their geopolitical position;

– what role could the Danube Strategy play for the intensification of the Bulgarian-Romanian relations;

– how should the Turkish ascension as a mediator between „the West“ and „the East“ should be seen and what does it mean for the countries of Southeastern Europe;

– what are the result of German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China;

– what is path forward for the EU in a world in which Russia is no longer a key economic partner and inderdependence with China might not be advisable;

– what has been changing with regard to Austria’s role in Southeastern Europe after the start of the war in Ukraine.

You can watch the whole interview here: