Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister Valeri Simeonov submitted his resignation on Friday evening, saying an ongoing public campaign against him jeopardises the stability of the coalition government.
For nearly a month the parents of children with disabilities have been protesting daily in front of the government building in Sofia with demands that Simeonov step down after he described them as “screaming women with supposedly sick children”. His words infuriated mothers of children with disabilities, who have been pressing for changes to several laws providing support for the integration of their children.
The two biggest opposition parties – the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – have threatened to boycott the parliamentary sessions if Simeonov does not resign.
“The reasons for my resignation are the ongoing media campaign against me […] which no longer focuses on me in my capacity as deputy prime minister but on MPs of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB),” Simeonov told a press briefing aired live.
Simenov is leader of NFSB, one of three parties forming the nationalist alliance United Patriots, the junior partner of GERB party led by Boyko Borissov.
Simenov, who holds no ministerial post, is vice premier in charge of demographic policy.
GERB party holds 95 places in Bulgaria’s 240-seat parliament, the Bulgarian Socialist Party has 80, United Patriots control 27, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms has 25, and Volya party holds 11.
Borissov has accepted Simeonov’s resignation, public TV broadcaster BNT reported later on Friday evening.