Condemning the National Assembly’s rejection of his veto of election law amendments on voting abroad as “the latest occasion that legislators have put their party interests above the constitutional rights of citizens”, Bulgaria’s President Rossen Plevneliev said that he was taking the amendments to the Constitutional Court.
Plevneliev’s May 18 statement came a few hours after the ruling parties, and some minority parties, voted to overrule his veto, which he had imposed citing concerns about the constitutionality of amendments effectively cutting back the franchise rights of Bulgarians outside the country.
The ruling parties’ vote to overrule his veto was the result of a deal for the government to hold together the three remaining political forces in the governing coalition, after a fourth – the socialist minority ABC party – quit last week.
Plevneliev said that he was approaching the Constitutional Court “with the hope that Bulgarian democracy has institutional mechanisms to guarantee the rights of citizens, wherever they are in the world”.
It was a matter of “great regret” that the National Assembly had rejected the veto, Plevneliev said.
He did not accept the idea that political goals in a democratic and constitutional state may be achieved by other than constitutional means or that the rights of one group of Bulgarian citizens may be contradictory to the rights of other citizens.
Plevneliev said that he repeatedly had pointed out that he had imposed the veto not as an “act of resistance” but as a chance to adopt texts guaranteeing the already-won rights of citizens that had led to positive results and that in recent elections had increased voter turnout abroad.
Citizens expected to get from politicians more rights to influence the process of decision-making in the country, not to have these rights restricted, he said.
Plevneliev said that he had repeatedly stated how important it was in this “geopolitical moment” for all political parties represented in Parliament to work for stability, but he was convinced “this cannot be achieved by ignoring the constitution”.
His statement came a few hours after the ruling parties agreed that, having overturned his veto, they would – again – change the much-amended election law amendments to increase the maximum number of polling stations that could be opened in a foreign country for Bulgarian elections.