Bulgarian opposition GERB says it will boycott parliament until cabinet resigns

Written by on July 3, 2014 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgarian opposition GERB says it will boycott parliament until cabinet resigns

Bulgarian centre-right opposition leader Boiko Borissov said on July 3 that his GERB party would stay away from the National Assembly until the cabinet resigned.

Bulgaria is to hold early parliamentary elections on October 5 and the National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, will be dissolved on August 6.

No date has been named for the resignation of the cabinet, although the latest that it can table its resignation is July 25.

Already, far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka, the 42nd National Assembly’s smallest of four parties and widely seen as having scant chance of winning any seats in the early elections, announced a boycott, leaving in the hands of GERB the issue of raising enough MPs for a quorum to hold sittings.

On July 3, like the day before, and like so many days in the life of a parliament elected in May 2013 only to achieve record-low approval ratings, proceedings of the National Assembly were cancelled for lack of a quorum.

The failure to secure a quorum on July 2 was the result of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, current holder of the mandate to govern, boycotting proceedings, causing even some of its own MPs to say that the “ruling party” was behaving as if it was the opposition.

Borissov told reporters in the corridors of the National Assembly on July 3 that his party was staying away from sittings because other political parties were failing to meet commitments made during consultations with President Rossen Plevneliev on the way forward to the early elections.

In essence, the current tit-for-tat scuppering of parliamentary sittings is the result of a protracted dispute between GERB and the BSP about which laws the National Assembly should be considering and voting on in the time remaining to it.

The day before, Plamen Oresharski, appointed in May last year to sit in the prime minister’s chair in the BSP cabinet, said that he would submit his resignation at the end of July, at the same time saying that he hoped that Parliament would have a quorum when he did so.

Tsetska Tsacheva, a senior GERB MP, told reporters that the party would provide a quorum to vote on the resignation of Oresharski when it is tabled.

Bulgaria’s ruling axis has clung to power for more than a year in spite of being faced by widely-supported public protests demanding its resignation and early elections, with the first major impetus being given by the mid-June 2013 abortive appointment of controversial figure Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security.
While Peevski’s appointment was withdrawn, a series of other controversial moves, both legislative and in appointments to senior official positions, and blunders fuelled demands for the resignation of the cabinet.

The BSP, in government despite having run second in May 2013 – Borissov’s GERB won the most votes at the time but had no allies in the National Assembly with which to form a governing coalition – in turn ran an even poorer second in Bulgaria’s May 2014 European Parliament elections.

This reverse, along with controversies over its energy policies and shortcomings in handling EU funds, propelled the BSP’s ruling axis partner the Movement for Rights and Freedoms to say that the cabinet could not be realistically expected to be able to serve out its full term. Grudgingly and riven by internal dissension over the approach to elections, the BSP has been dragged into agreeing to early polls.

Borissov, in upping the stakes on July 3 by announcing the boycott – notwithstanding GERB’s patchy record in keeping to its boycotts of this parliament – now seems to fully echo what anti-government protesters have insisted to the cabinet and parliament from the outset, in the oft-cited reported words of Cromwell to the Rump Parliament in the 17th century: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

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