Bulgaria's government has weathered its latest political storm: its fourth no-confidence vote in three years. But Sofia still faces serious questions over its ability to tackle the country's most pressing issues.
The Bulgarian government on Thursday survived a no-confidence vote in parliament called for by the opposition.
The no-confidence motion was defeated in the country's 240-member parliament by 136 votes to 72, with two abstentions and 30 absentees.
It was the fourth time that Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has faced and survived such a vote since his government, dominated by his conservative GERB party, first came to office in 2009.
A government under fire
The latest no-confidence bid by the opposition was prompted by a recent monitoring report published by the European Commission; it argued that the suicide bombing on a tourist bus in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas last week exposed the government's shortcomings in dealing with the country's security. It also heavily criticized the country's inefficient judiciary as well as its failure to imprison organized crime leaders.
The recent terrorist bombing in Bulgaria has raised concerns about the state of the country's security
Although Bulgaria has been a member of the EU since 2007, it has so far proved unsuccessful in carrying out requisite reforms and has been subject to criticism over the inefficiencies and corruption that allegedly plague its judiciary.
Bulgaria has come under increased scrutiny recently over the fact that the majority of 150 contract killings that have occurred in the country over the last decade have gone uncovered or unsanctioned. Nor has a single top official been sentenced for corruption.
And organized crime, worth five percent of GDP, or 1.8 billion euros a year, continues to play a significant part in the country's economy, putting off many potential foreign investors and ultimately strangling growth.
According to the Centre for the Study of the Democracy, a key quandary for Bulgaria is the existence of local "oligarchs" who have legal businesses but also dabble in tax fraud and are entangled in webs of corruption and illicit lobbying.
The government has pledged to clamp down on organized crime by setting up a specialized court and introducing a new law banning illegally obtained assets. But the gestures have failed to sufficiently reassure skeptics both at home and abroad.
sej/ccp (dpa, AP, Reuters)