Election code approved by Parliament, faces further hurdles

Written by on February 21, 2014 in Bulgaria - No comments

Bulgaria’s 42nd National Assembly completed on February 21 the marathon second-reading vote of the controversial Bulgarian Socialist Party-proposed election code, but the code will face at least one legal hurdle.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, partner in the ruling axis, has said that it intends taking to the Constitutional Court provisions disenfranchising Bulgarians who have lived outside the country for more than six months.

There is also the open question about whether President Rossen Plevneliev will veto the law, as he has hinted on several occasions he might do.

Under the constitution, the head of state’s power of veto is limited and may be overriden by a simple majority of members of Parliament. The BSP has indicated that should Plevneliev exercise his veto, it will seek to override it, whatever the grounds.

The second-reading vote began on February 12 and continued for eight days, with interruptions as quorums were lost or, on one day, proceedings were adjourned because an MP had died.

The election of members of the parliament will be done under the proportional electoral system with election tickets registered in multi-mandate constituencies: parties and coalitions, initiative committees.

When voting for an election ticket of a party or a coalition the voter may mark only one preference for a candidate in the election ticket, thus expressing a preference about the order of the candidates in the election ticket.

MPs also voted the preference for the candidates for members of the European Parliament to be no less than five per cent of the votes for an election ticket.

The preference threshold when voting for municipal councillors is seven per cent. The threshold for election to the National Assembly remains four per cent, with the ruling axis rejecting a proposal by centre-right opposition party GERB to lower it to three per cent.

Under the Constitution the President of the Republic of Bulgaria has a 15-day deadline to either publish the document in the State Gazette or not.

Under the Republic of Bulgaria State Seal and National Flag Act, however, there is an eight-day deadline after receiving the code in which the President has to send a decree to the Minister of Justice for the publishing of the code in the State Gazette. Thus the President has an eight-day deadline to decide whether to impose a veto on the Election Code.

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