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 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.