At the time of writing of this article, the make-up of the future goverment in Sofia remains unresolved following the indecisive outcome of the May 12 elections. However, the stakes are high, and not just for our neighbours to the south across the Danube, but for the whole of the EU.

Indeed, the early Bulgarian elections were also a sort of dress rehearsal for the upcoming European elections. And, in any case, the issue is extremely important for the future configuration of the Assembly that will decide the future of the European Union.

Intensity of negotiations

The 2014 elections to the European Parliament will usher in a novelty for the citizen of the Union: the big political groupings will, for the first time, propose candidates for the Presidency of the European Commission (EC). These are the first elections following the Lisbon Treaty, a document that confers increased powers on the legislative assembly, which meets in Brussels and Strasbourg. The effects are already being felt, for example in the growing intensity of the negotiations between the Parliament and the Council on various topics – the more publicised being perhaps the 2014-2020 budget.

The main role in appointing the head of the Commission always falls to the European Council. But the latter should make that decision in accordance with the outcome of the elections to the European Parliament. Otherwise, the candidate proposed by the Council might not be able to put together the required majority among the MEPs.

It is important therefore to know who will represent Bulgaria on the Council – unlike Romania, the Bulgarians are represented by their prime minister, and not by the country's president, even though, as is the case in Romania, the latter is elected by universal suffrage. And so then, which [European Union] political grouping will have Bulgaria’s vote on this Council that will put forward the name of the president of the Commission?

War at the polls

For now, the balance seems to be tilting towards the Socialists, since the speaker of the Parliament in Sofia [Mihail Mikov] was elected from among their ranks. A socialist led parliamentary majority under Sergei Stanishev might therefore be in sight – but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. However, it is worth noting that Stanishev is the president of the PES, the Party of European Socialists.

It’s precisely for this reason that the stakes for the Socialists are enormous. It’s even rumoured that the candidacy of German Martin Schulz – Chairman of the European Parliament and leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) – for the presidency of the Commission will be launched in Sofia. The Socialists, however, have every interest in organising their festivities where their colleagues have been victorious, and not where they have been beaten.

True, the Bulgarian Socialists have not won the war at the polls, where they won only 27 per cent of the votes, which is three per cent less than the party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who resigned at the start of the year. Stanishev therefore is almost obliged to win the peace – that is to say, the negotiations to form a government.

A specific issue for Bucharest

It must be said nonetheless that while the Bulgarian elections and their outcome do matter to Martin Schulz, the elections in his own country, Germany, are much more important. It will be virtually impossible for the leader of the socialist MEPs to be proposed as chair of the Commission if his party is not part of the governing coalition in his own country. (Seeing how things stand at present, it does not seem likely the SPD will win the elections in Germany outright.)

There is also a specific issue for Bucharest, related of course to the election year 2014. That’s election year for the European Parliament – and for the Romanian presidency. In the meantime, we could see by this autumn a referendum to change the Constitution.

The Romanian political crisis of the summer of 2012 showed the European Commission’s influence on our internal power plays. It is also clear that for the struggling factions in Bucharest, the name of the future President of the Commission is not a matter of indifference.