Former constitutional judge: Committee investigating President Plevneliev is unconstitutional

Written by on May 14, 2014 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Former constitutional judge: Committee investigating President Plevneliev is unconstitutional

A former judge in Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court has become the latest expert to say that the parliamentary committee set up with the votes of the ruling axis on a proposal by Ataka to investigate President Rossen Plevneliev’s meeting with leadership of power utility EVN is unconstitutional.

The ad hoc committee was voted into existence by the 42nd National Assembly and will be headed by Magdalena Tasheva, an MP for the far-right, ultra-nationalist party, with the backing of Sergei Stanishev’s Bulgarian Socialist Party and Lyutvi Mestan’s Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

It is directed against Plevneliev because of talks he held while in Austria with a top executive of EVN, one of three foreign-owned electricity distribution companies that is the subject of a negative campaign by the ruling axis and which are currently subject to a procedure by the energy regulator that theoretically could see their licences removed.

The “secret meeting” – the President’s office has said that there was nothing secret about it, only that it was a belated addition to his programme – was the subject of hysteria by Ataka and pro-government media when it emerged that the licence removal procedure had been discussed at the meeting.

The meeting has been seized on by Plevneliev’s detractors, who have taken to referring to the head of state as “EVNeliev”.

Plevneliev already has said that he will not attend the committee, dismissing it as unconstitutional. Other experts also have said that Parliament has no constitutional oversight over the head of state, only over members of the executive.

Speaking in an interview with Nova Televizia on May 14, former Constitutional Court judge Georgi Markov said that the Bulgarian constitution was clear, that there was no way for the National Assembly to investigate the head of state.

Constitutionally, Parliament had the power to initiate an impeachment procedure if a quarter of all MPs considered that the President had committed treason or violated the constitution and if two-thirds voted to refer him to the Constitutional Court, Markov said.

“I have no heard any MP, let alone 60, say that the President has committed treason or materially violated the constitution. The head of state can sleep peacefully because this Parliament does not have 161 members to vote to prosecute him in the Constitutional Court,” he said.

“It is is not necessary to be a lawyer – it is obvious that President Plevneliev has not committed treason,” Markov said.

He said that it was clear that the move against the President was part of the election campaign ahead of Bulgaria’s May 25 2014 European Parliament elections.

On May 12, Tsetska Tsacheva, a senior MP for centre-right opposition party GERB – on whose ticket Plevneliev was elected president in late 2011 – said that the representatives of the energy distribution companies and others in the energy sector were regularly heard by Parliament’s energy committee and the ad hoc committee was “absolutely pointless”.

The committee against Plevneliev was “absolutely unacceptable and unconstitutional,” said Tsacheva, whose party intends tabling a motion to challenge the existence of the ad hoc parliamentary committee in the Constitutional Court.

When the Ataka proposal to set up the committee was put to the vote in the National Assembly, GERB was the only one out of the four parties in the National Assembly to vote against it.

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