Bulgaria’s centre-right government survived a vote of no confidence on Tuesday despite anti-corruption protests calling for the ousting of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
The vote was the fifth one called by the opposition Socialist party.
It was defeated by 124 votes to 102 with 11 abstentions and three lawmakers absent.
Protests against the government have been ongoing for over two weeks. Demonstrators accuse Borissov and the country’s top prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, of corruption, authoritarian rule and dependence on criminal groups. They are calling for both men to step down.
Borissov, in power since 2009, has refused to step down before the end of his third term in March 2021. He attempted to quell the unrest last week by sacking three of his top ministers.
According to Andrius Tursa, Central & Eastern Europe Advisor at Teneo Intelligence, although the government defeated the motion of censure against it on Tuesday, “the political situation will remain unstable”.
“The probability of snap polls is rising amid the continuing, largest anti-government protests since 2013,” he wrote in a note.
The analyst believes that a more radical cabinet reshuffle could be announced within the coming days but warns that it is unlikely to curb discontent.
“Borissov might be tempted to go to the polls early, as his key opponents are largely unprepared for this and the economic situation is expected to deteriorate in the coming months.
“Such a scenario would become more likely if protests do not abate,” he went on.
Bulgaria is the most corrupt country in the European Union, according to watchdog Transparency International.
The NGO has placed the country last in a ranking of EU countries for seven consecutive years and flagged that there has been “no significant progress in fighting corruption in comparison with other countries from the EU” between 2012-2019.