Bulgaria’s parliament failed on Friday to appoint a new central bank governor after the sole candidate did not get enough backing following bickering within the ruling coalition as the Balkan country prepares to join the eurozone in 2024.
The appointment fell through after three of the four ruling parties refused to back Lyubomir Karimansky, nominated by their partner, the anti-establishment ITN party.
Incumbent Dimitar Radev, whose tenure officially expired last July, will remain in the post for the time being.
The vote has raised tensions in Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s fragile coalition and could weaken his government, which took office in December on pledges to combat graft in the European Union’s poorest member state.
Karimansky, 50, a former bank executive and lawmaker from the anti-establishment ITN party, had remained the only candidate for the post, despite calls from Petkov’s centrist PP party to its coalition partner to withdraw his nomination.
PP has already withdrawn its own candidate, hoping that ITN would follow suit and allow more time to agree on a joint candidate for the role, which is important for supervising banks and maintaining Bulgaria’s lev currency peg to the euro.
Petkov has argued that the new central bank governor should have “impeccable ethics and morals” and expressed concerns over Karimansky’s “professional biography.”
Local media reported that in 2015, as chief executive of local lender Investbank, Karimansky signed off on a questionable transaction worth over 1 million levs, which prosecutors are still investigating. No charges have been made during the probe.
Karimansky, who is currently head of the parliament’s budget commission, has denied any wrongdoing.
Bulgaria entered the eurozone’s waiting room, the ERM-2 mechanism, in 2020, meaning that a new central bank governor will need to prepare the way for the nation’s euro adoption and maintain vigilant supervision over lenders to combat money laundering.
Petkov has expressed hope that the coalition will agree a joint central bank nomination before a new process is opened.
Relations within the coalition are already strained over whether Bulgaria should lift its veto on EU accession talks with neighboring North Macedonia and also over whether Sofia should send military aid to Ukraine. [Reuters]