Valeri Simeonov, the deputy prime minister of Bulgaria and a member of the right-wing nationalist electoral alliance, the United Patriots, part of the governing coalition, resigned on November 16, a few weeks after making controversial statements about disabled rights activists.
“I am handing in my resignation following the continued media campaign against me,” said Mr Simeonov.
“This campaign is damaging the government’s rating and authority and is becoming an obstacle to its normal work. This is something I cannot afford.”
Protests against Mr Simeonov began after he claimed that “loudmouthed” mothers of disabled children, campaigning for better treatment of the disabled in Bulgaria, had made their “apparently sick children” stand in front parliament to protest with them. After a meeting of the council of the governing coalition, Mr Simeonov succumbed to political pressure and made a public apology to the mothers. The mothers did not accept the apology and continued to protest, demanding his resignation.
The situation then escalated when the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms both said that they will not participate in any parliamentary sessions until the deputy PM resigned. Over the course of 10 days, several parliamentary sessions could not be held due to a lack of MPs.
Boyko Borissov, the Bulgarian prime minister, had apologised on Mr Simeonov’s but refused to dismiss him as he claimed that doing so would put the government at risk, as the ruling coalition has just a one-seat majority in parliament.