Bulgaria parties agree to form coalition govt in bid to end deadlock

FILE PHOTO: European Commission launches expert group on disinformation and digital literacy, in Brussels

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's two largest political parties, the centre-right GERB and a pro-Western bloc led by "We continue to change", agreed on Monday to form a coalition government with a rotating prime minister in a bid to end more than two years of policy deadlock.

The uncertainty forced EU-member Bulgaria to delay its target date for adopting the euro and it has yet to approve a budget bill for 2023. It also hampered Bulgaria's ability to harness EU post-pandemic recovery funds.

Former Education Minister Nikolai Denkov, of "We continue to change", is expected to be given the mandate to form the government and will be prime minister for the first nine months.

"The situation is extremely difficult," Denkov was quoted as saying by the Sofia Globe web site in English. "After five elections in a row, we have difficulty forming a regular cabinet and there is a real danger of going to the next election in a row with no clear result."

Ex-European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, a member of GERB, will take over as premier after nine months, according to the agreement.

In elections on April 2, GERB came first, winning 69 seats in the 240-seat parliament. The bloc led by "We continue to change" won 64 seats.

To be able to formally implement the coalition accord, Gabriel on Monday returned the mandate she got to form the government on May 15 to President Rumen Radev who will then give the mandate to Denkov.

Denkov will announce members of the cabinet in the coming days.

(Reporting by Soyan Nenov and Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Nick Macfie)