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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bulgaria Socialists Pick Cabinet Amid Ongoing Strikes, Marches

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- The former Communists named a new government Monday, risking massive protests and possible street violence from citizens who blame them for economic chaos and want to see them swept from power.


Tensions were palpably high Monday as the Socialists, the Communists' successors, made their decision. Over the past month, efforts to tame hyperinflation and end a dramatic drop in living standards have been paralyzed by political disputes over whether the Socialists would continue to rule.


Demonstrators blame the Socialists, who have ruled for more than two years, for the country's economic troubles.


A previous Socialist government resigned in December, but because they are the largest party in parliament, Socialists legally have another chance to form a government. The opposition repeatedly rejected offers to build a coalition, including a final offer on Sunday.


Meeting Monday, Socialist Party leaders overwhelmingly approved a proposed cabinet under new Premier-designate Nikolai Dobrev.


Dobrev, interior minister in the outgoing government, said a one-party government was not ideal, but better than a continued power vacuum.


Dobrev said protests against Bulgaria's woeful economic situation were justified, but he criticized those that prevent delivery of basic food and goods. "Civil disobedience is illegal," he said.


Traffic came to a standstill in the city center as public transport workers went on strike and students blocked key intersections. Tens of thousands joined the daily march through the city chanting "red garbage" and "victory."


The city was full of people walking, sometimes miles, to their destinations, most sporting either the laughing lion emblem of the opposition or blue ribbons of strike on their lapels.


Dobrev must now present his proposed cabinet, more than half of which belonged to the old government, to President Petar Stoyanov.