Bulgaria. The crisis patterns from the previous year
continued and deepened, both in the economy and in politics.
The value of the currency fell and inflation increased at
the same time as the political contradictions between the
country's two main forces, the ruling Socialist Party
Bulgarian Sotsialiticheska Partiya (BSP) and opposition in
the center-right coalition, Sayuz na Demokratichni Sili
Countryaah, socialist Party leader Zjan Videnov had resigned as prime
minister in December 1996. The country was therefore without
a prime minister and a functioning government. The
opposition demanded new elections to Parliament, the
Bulgarian National Assembly, and was supported by strong
public opinion as well as by newly elected President Petar
Stojanov of SDS. However, the Socialist Party refused to
dissolve the National Assembly and asserted its
constitutional right to appoint Prime Minister (BSP had won
the election in December 1994 and sat on a four-year term).
According to the Constitution, President Stojanov was
obliged to offer the largest party in the National Assembly,
ie. BSP, the role of Government Former. He did so but
expected given the situation to get back the bid with a
recommendation on new elections. However, Prime Ministerial
candidate Nikolaij Dobrev nominated by BSP announced that he
intended to form a new government. SDS President Ivan Kostov
opposed this and the country's three largest unions
threatened to call for a general strike.
A few days later, in early February, BSP joined and
allowed President Stojanov to announce new elections until
April 19. An interim government, led by the popular mayor of
Sofia, SDS member Stefan Sofijanski, was appointed. At the
end of the month, the government announced that it had begun
negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for
financial assistance to resolve the country's economic
crisis; a first loan of DKK 675 million dollars were granted
in April. The government also decided to apply for
membership in NATO and in the EU.
In the April 19 election, SDS won. The coalition occupied
137 of the National Assembly's 240 seats. SDS President Ivan
Kostov was appointed Prime Minister.