Bulgaria's parliament formally approved the country's new centrist-led government in a bid to restore stability, tackle the Covid-19 crisis and spur economic development in the poorest EU member country.

Lawmakers voted 134-104 to elect 41-year-old Kiril Petkov as prime minister.
Lawmakers voted 134-104 to elect 41-year-old Kiril Petkov as prime minister. (AP)

Bulgarian lawmakers have voted in Kiril Petkov, a Harvard-educated entrepreneur, as prime minister.

They also approved the lineup of his broad coalition government, ending months of political deadlock in the European Union's poorest member state on Monday.

Petkov's new centrist faction We Continue The Change (PP) won Bulgaria's third national election this year in November.

They secured a clear majority of 134 votes in the 240-member parliament to take over the reins of the Balkan country.

He announced that transparency in public money spending, zero tolerance for corruption and reforms in the judiciary will be the keystones of his government program.

Petkov, who served as minister of economics in the previous caretaker Cabinet, also pledged to keep Bulgaria on pro-European and pro-NATO track.  

'Zero tolerance to corruption'

Petkov will lead an unprecedented ruling coalition with the leftist Socialists, anti-establishment ITN party and the centre-right Democratic Bulgaria, united under the motto "zero tolerance to corruption", for a four-year term.

"I will insist that corruption from the lowest to the highest level be exposed," Petkov told the chamber prior to his election, appealing to all lawmakers to support legal changes needed to overhaul the judiciary.

The new government takes over following eight months of political impasse and two interim administrations after anger against high-level graft ended the decade-long rule of former centre-right premier Boyko Borissov.

Wearing a black face mask, Petkov shook hands with his closest allies as he received a standing ovation from the ruling coalition's lawmakers upon his election.

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Energy costs, vaccinations

His cabinet will have to steer Bulgaria through challenges ranging from high energy costs and low Covid-19 vaccination rates to preparing the economy for euro zone entry in 2024.

"My first task will be to keep the electricity costs for consumers at bay and boost the level of vaccinations at least to the average level in the EU," Petkov told reporters.

Petkov also said he plans to keep coronavirus vaccine take-up voluntary, but will launch an information campaign to convince sceptical Bulgarians to get inoculated. 

Only 26 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, compared to an average 70 percent in the EU.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies