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New Bulgaria government may struggle to govern

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Tsvetelia Tsolova

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's new Socialist-led government won a parliamentary vote of confidence on Wednesday, ending months of political impasse but lacking the broad backing that may be required to keep finances under control.

The European Union's poorest member has been without a permanent administration since February, when street protests against low living standards toppled a government led by the center-right GERB party.

The minority government received 119 votes in favor and 98 against. Backed by the Socialists and their ethnic Turkish MRF allies, it will be led by Plamen Oresharski, 53, a non-partisan former finance minister.

Backed by the Socialists and their ethnic Turkish MRF allies, it will have to keep fiscal deficits under control while showing it can work to improve incomes or risk renewed demonstrations.

One in five Bulgarians still live under the poverty threshold, six years after EU entry. The population has an average monthly salary of just 400 euros and pensions half that, a fraction of EU's average.

"Oresharski will face a strong parliamentary opposition in the form of the center-right GERB and will depend on the outside tacit support of nationalist Ataka to reach a majority when needed," said Otilia Simkova, an analyst with political risk consultancy Eurasia.

"While his position will be precarious in the perfectly hung parliament, Ataka and GERB will not have the necessary majority to remove him, until we start to see some parliamentary deserters from his own party or their (DPS) allies."

Political analyst Ivan Nachev said key for the government's stability would be to find the balance between economic and political interests.

"It is still not clear what would be the position of the GERB party while it is obvious that the new government needs a stable parliament too."

"Otherwise, we are going closer to a Greek scenario."

When finance minister, Oresharski oversaw a period of dizzying economic boom and bust in a previous Socialist-led government in 2005-2009.

He won the post after the GERB failed to secure support from the other parties to form a cabinet.

"May be we won't be able to become rich and prosperous, but our minimum task is for Bulgarians to have bigger hope and more confidence that we are on the right track at the end of our term," Oresharski told reporters.

(Additional reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Writing by Radu Marinas; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130529/new-bulgaria-government-may-struggle-govern