Another day of drama in Bulgaria’s political crisis – highlights

Written by on February 26, 2013 in Bulgaria, News - No comments

With perhaps just days to run in the lifespan of the current Bulgarian cabinet – currently in an acting capacity after its resignation – and Parliament, February 26 2013 was another day of drama in the struggle over the country’s political future.

These are a few highlights:

• The Consultative Council on National Security met for more than five hours. It heard from Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov about the country’s fiscal reserve and continuing financial stability, and – according to Ataka leader Volen Siderov, who staged a walkout of the meeting after his demand that the media be allowed to broadcast it was refused on constitutional ground – heard a report from the State Agency for National Security saying that extremist elements were stoking up the nationwide protests.

• Not only was Siderov absent from the meeting, so was outgoing/acting prime minister Boiko Borissov, who was taken to hospital with high blood pressure. Borissov was expected to be discharged either on the evening of February 26 or the morning of February 27, and was advised by doctors to rest and refrain from sport for a few days.

• Parliament sat in special session, approving the second reading of energy efficiency legislation, and approving amendments to the Foreigners Act opening the way for refugees who have stayed in the country for five years to apply for permanent residence.

• On February 27, Parliament will decide on a resolution tabled by the right-wing Blue Coalition to put a final stop to the Belene nuclear power station project. Borissov’s cabinet voted in March 2012 to pull the plug on the long-standing plan for Belene, citing excessive expected costs, uncertain profit and the lack of an investor. This led, in time, to a costly national referendum which ended in debacle when turnout was too low to be decisive but just high enough to be referred back to Parliament, where Borissov’s party and others opposed to Belene are expected to deliver the coup de grace.

• A socialist MP, Mihail Mikov, told the media that the Consultative Council on National Security would recommend May 12 as the date of early elections. Had Borissov’s government served out its term, elections would have been on the first Sunday in July.

• MPs for Yane Yanev’s Order Law and Justice party, which has too few members to be registered as an official parliamentary group, said that they would table a motion for a referendum on convening a Grand National Assembly to debate changes to the constitution.

• MPs for Yane Yanev’s Order Law and Justice party, which has too few members to be registered as an official parliamentary group, said that they would table a motion for a referendum on convening a Grand National Assembly to debate changes to the constitution.

• On February 28, Parliament is expected to vote to approve a moratorium on all deals and construction on a list of Bulgaria’s Black Sea beaches, all of which have been at the centre of controversies of nature conservation rules in recent years.

• Parliament is scheduled to hold Question Time for ministers on March 1. The previous Friday, Question Time was cancelled because of a lack of a quorum.

• President Rossen Plevneliev, opening the meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security, issued a call to political parties to “categorically declare that they are working to ease tensions and must concentrate all their efforts on the assertion of democratic processes, the stability of institutions and the preservation of civil peace”. Plevneliev said that there was a “credible risk” of stability being undermined, the normal functioning of institutions being disrupted and social tensions escalating, “of extremist and violent acts”.

• The Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, respectively the second- and third-largest parties in the current National Assembly, again confirmed that they would not accept a mandate from the President to attempt to form a government. President Plevneliev is to hand a mandate to the socialists on February 27 and to the MRF on March 1. After GERB turned down the mandate on February 25, the refusal by all three of the largest parties will mean that the next step is the appointment by the President of a caretaker government and the dissolution of Parliament along with the naming of the date for national parliamentary elections.

• A man was arrested in possession of a gas pistol in front of the office of the President at 2 Dondoukov Boulevard in Sofia. Police said that he (the man with the firearm, not the President) was drunk.

• Pending the expected appointment of a caretaker government, the current Cabinet is to hold a scheduled meeting on February 27.

• Parliament’s other business on February 28 will be a special address by President Plevneliev.

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