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Messy elections in Bulgaria: An attempt for a read-out

For the first time in Bulgaria’s post-'89 history, eight parties will enter the 240-seat parliament. The complicated choreography of the negotiations necessary for building the government is still in the air, but one thing is clear: it will be messier than ever and will require more fortitude and political responsibility from the parties.

The biggest share of the exercise goes to the centre-right GERB of former Prime Minister (2009-2013) Boyko Borissov. Although he scored high – more than twice the votes of his main rival, the Bulgarian Socialist Party – Borissov will not enjoy a comfortable plurality. With only 84 MPs, GERB will be forced to strike a coalition with one or even two parties. A centre-right coalition with the Reformist Block (RB) would be ideologically the most logical one but appears increasingly difficult due to personality issues. The Block’s leaders declared they

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Dissecting Juncker’s Commission: view from the Netherlands

One of Holland's brightest diplomats is moving to the heart of Brussels’ bureaucracy. Known for his energy, language skills and social media addiction (the first pictures from a European Commission meeting have already been posted on Facebook), former diplomat Frans Timmermans quickly gained popularity as the Dutch foreign minister after years as social-democratic MP. A more vital and visible minister than his predecessors, Timmermans is seen as having put the Netherlands back on the map in international relations with his constant travels and good personal relations with other leaders. He especially received a lot of praise for his moving speech at the UN Security Council after the crash of flight MH17 over Ukraine. It came as no surprise when he was nominated for a European commissariat, although the exact responsibilities of the newly invented position were unexpected: As EC

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Dissecting Juncker’s Commission: Spain’s Commissioner

This is a part of a translation of an article first published by Contexte.

Juncker Entrusts Energy and Climate to Spanish Conservative

The former Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete is an expert on European politics. His close ties to the oil industry have earned him the scorn of ecologists, who do not deem him progressive enough. The Spanish government, however, is satisfied with his portfolio. The former Agriculture Minister under the Rajoy administration will be in charge of energy and climate. Spanish conservatives are obviously delighted by the news. The decision was announced on the 10th of September by the president elect of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and must still be approved by the European Parliament. The candidates will be evaluated by the European Parliament on the 29th of September.

A choice criticized by ecologists

The decision has

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Dissecting Juncker’s Commission: View from Italy

Juncker’s new Commission has been well received. Italy is happy to see the independent-minded Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva was named Vice President and Commissioner Budget and Human Resources. There is a bit of concern over Finland's former Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, who can be firmly placed within the austerity camp, being nominated Vice President and the Commissioner in charge of jobs, growth investment and competitiveness. 

But most media attention is centred on another Vice President, Federica Mogherini, the 41-year-old Italian minister of Foreign Affairs, who was appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and will lead the EU’s foreign policy for the next five years. In Juncker’s new cluster model she will also supervise and guide the work of four other commissioners: the Directorates-General of Development, Humanitarian Aid,

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Dissecting Juncker’s Commission: View from Germany

Throughout the European reform debate of the past decade, there has been a mainstream political consensus in Germany in favour of the European Commission assuming the role of government in the European Union’s political system. This accounts for Germany’s willingness to give up its second commissioner as a consequence of enlargement. It also influenced Germany to lend some support to the French initiative, launched in the European Convention phase of reform, of significantly reducing the number of commissioners. Berlin did not give it its full backing to the idea because of the explicit concerns of smaller member states. Rather, the German government made it known that Berlin could live with seeing no German commissioner serving in Brussels.

Berlin supported the Lisbon Treaty’s compromise on the number of commissioners, as well as the decision not to apply its provisions in light

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