Bulgaria's prime minister-designate optimistic he can lead minority government

·2-min read

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian prime minister-designate Plamen Nikolov of anti-elite There Is Such a People (ITN) party said on Tuesday he was optimistic he can lead a minority government although it remains unclear whether he can build sufficient support for it.

ITN narrowly won July 11 parliamentary elections, the second this year, putting an end to nearly a decade of political dominance of centre-right former premier Boyko Borissov amid popular anger with widespread corruption.

But with just 65 deputies in the 240-member parliament, the ITN party led by popular talk show host and singer Slavi Trifonov would need the support of other parties to form a government.

Nikolov, 44, a business manager with limited experience in politics and nominated by ITN to become prime minister, faces an uphill battle to garner support after ITN refused to debate ministerial posts with smaller anti-graft parties.

A failure to form a Cabinet would increase the chances for a third election this year, hampering Bulgaria's efforts to tap into European Union coronavirus recovery funds and efficiently curb an expected increase in infections.

On Tuesday, Nikolov presented his nominations for ministers to the two anti-graft parties and the Socialists, whose support he would need to build a majority. The three parties declined to say whether they would support him for the time being.

"I can say I am an optimist," Nikolov told reporters and added that he does not plan to amend his nominations, mainly professionals and ITN activists.

He proposed financial consultant Plamen Danailov, 41, for finance minister. Danailov supports keeping income and corporate tax rates low. He has said a public debate was needed on whether Bulgaria should join the euro zone in 2024 as planned.

Radi Naidenov, 58, a career diplomat and former interim foreign minister is nominated for the top diplomatic job.

ITN has until the end of Friday to either put Nikolov's government to vote in the parliament, or return the mandate to the president.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Grant McCool)

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