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Bulgaria's parliament approves new center-right government

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SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria's parliament on Friday formally approved the country's new center-right government in an attempt to restore stability and spur economic development in the poorest EU member country.

Lawmakers voted 149-85 to elect 55-year-old Boyko Borisov as the new prime minister.

In a separate vote, legislators also approved the Cabinet — a 20-member minority coalition between Borisov's center-right GERB party and the right-wing Reformist bloc, which together have 107 of the 240 seats in parliament. The government can also rely on the declared support by the 30 legislators of the nationalist Patriotic Front and the left-wing ABV party.

The former Sofia mayor, who won the largest share in early parliamentary elections on Oct. 5, ousted a Socialist-led coalition. Borisov was prime minister between 2009 and February 2013, when he stepped down amid nationwide social protests that turned violent.

PHOTO: The new Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov speaks in the parliament hall as his new government is approved by lawmakers in Sofia, Friday, Nov. 07, 2014. The former Sofia mayor, whose GERB party won a Oct. 5 election, was prime minister between 2009 and February 2013 when he stepped down amid nationwide social protests that have turned violent. Borisov is the first politician in Bulgaria's recent history to have a second term in office as Prime Minister. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
The new Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov speaks in the parliament hall as his new government is approved by lawmakers in Sofia, Friday, Nov. 07, 2014. The former Sofia mayor, whose GERB party won a Oct. 5 election, was prime minister between 2009 and February 2013 when he stepped down amid nationwide social protests that have turned violent. Borisov is the first politician in Bulgaria's recent history to have a second term in office as Prime Minister. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

Analysts predict a hard time for the new Cabinet, which faces challenges of pushing through legal reforms, reviving the slow economy and unfreezing blocked EU funds.

"We know that in order to yield results the reforms need to start immediately and the deadline is today," Borisov told parliament.

The European Commission has repeatedly urged the Balkan country to implement reforms in the judicial system and police force to restore the sense of justice among Bulgaria's 7.3 million people.

Borisov appointed Meglena Kuneva, a former EU commissioner, as his deputy in charge of European affairs. The new finance minister is Vladislav Goranov, who was deputy finance minister in Borisov's earlier government. Hristo Ivanov, program director of the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives, is the new justice minister.

Daniel Mitov, a strong supporter of Bulgaria's EU and NATO membership, is the new foreign minister, and Nikolay Nenchev now heads the ministry of defense.

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PHOTO: The new Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov seen in the parliament hall as his new government was approved by lawmakers in Sofia, Friday, Nov. 07, 2014. The former Sofia mayor, whose GERB party won a Oct. 5 election, was prime minister between 2009 and February 2013 when he stepped down amid nationwide social protests that have turned violent. Borisov is the first politician in Bulgaria's recent history to have a second term in office as Prime Minister. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
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