Sofia, Mar 2: Bulgaria's parliament today rejected a no-confidence motion against the Socialist-led government, accused by the opposition of failing to carry out sound healthcare reforms and uproot corruption in the sector.
With 163 deputies voting against the motion and only 60 for it, the three-party coalition easily survived the challenge, the second it faced since coming to power a year and a half ago.
Despite leading the country into the European Union last month, the cabinet is under attack for not raising low living standards and providing efficient, graft-free medical services to 7.7 million Bulgarians.
Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev told the chamber his government would work to improve health services and end the rampant bribery in the sector, and denied it was complacent on reforms.
''We understand well that Bulgaria is not a perfect country.
Neither is its health sector, nor wages,'' Stanishev said. ''The real challenge is to bring the country up to European standards ... and we will do it.'' Bulgaria is struggling to fight widespread graft in customs, hospitals and schools and boost low living standards in a country where monthly income is just a third of the EU average.
Brussels has put the Balkan country under strict monitoring and said it may withhold millions of euros in EU aid and prevent Bulgarian court rulings being recognised in other member states if Sofia fails to step up the fight against organised crime and corruption.
Stanishev accused the opposition of trying to destabilise the country at a time when it needs to push through reforms to avoid EU sanctions.
He said the vote proved that the ruling coalition can overcome differences that have increased in the past month and stay together to carry out the needed reforms.