Bulgaria to hold early parliamentary elections on May 12, President Plevneliev announces

Bulgarians will vote in ahead-of-term national parliamentary elections on May 12, President Rossen Plevneliev said in a special address to the National Assembly in Sofia on February 28 2013.

He said that there should be adequate time to prepare properly for the elections.

Reasons for the choice of date included not holding it on April 28 and May 5, respectively Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in the 2013 Bulgarian Orthodox Church calendar.

The date is based on the assumption that like Boiko Borissov’s party GERB and also the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms will decline a mandate to attempt to form a government in the wake of the resignation of Borissov’s government.

Had Borissov’s government, which stepped down because of nationwide protests that included incidents of violence in Sofia, served out its term, elections would have been held on July 7.

Among the next key moves by Plevneliev will be the appointment of a caretaker government and the dissolution of Parliament pending the May 12 2013 elections.

Plevneliev told the National Assembly, which had a strong turnout of MPs and two former presidents – Petar Stoyanov and Georgi Purvanov, along with Bulgarian Patriarch Neofit, watching from the gallery, that Bulgarians wanted to be governed by honest and honorable people.

“Bulgaria deserved to be a member of the EU and Nato, Bulgarian society chose European values and democracy. Democracy in Europe is connected to the notions of a good and decent life. Our compatriots ask for simple things – to be governed by decent and worthy people, not to be lied to, not to be robbed – they want a good life. It is up to the leaders of the protests and the politicians to avoid the destabilisation of the country,” Plevneliev said.

“Bulgarian civil society is strong. What do citizens tell us, how do we interpret their demands – these are the most important questions. There are many protests, the demands are many and different – some want nationalisation of the power distribution companies, but at the same time they place no trust in the state; others propose politicians to be recalled – but we already had this; they speak of nationalisation, but this is not a solution, because it will chase away investors. I count on your wisdom and good intentions for pulling the country out of the crisis,” Plevneliev said.

The citizenry had “stretched out a hand to us, let us take it,” he said, adding that people’s demands were justified.

Plevneliev called on political parties to do their utmost to behave at the level of democratic maturity.

People had shown that they wanted targeted solutions. Plevneliev said that “the problems cannot be solved in one day, but we will make decisions today and tomorrow”.

The country’s problems were not caused by street protests but by the unfulfilled promises of politicians, he said. There was a lack of confidence in institutions.

The main duty was to preserve civil peace and public order, Plevneliev said.

He said that soon an interim government would be set up to ensure a smooth transition, and the “public council” (scheduled to meet for the first time on March 1) would have an input.

The key word for this period was stability, he said.

“It’s what happens in Bulgarian schools – the education that future generations receive in Bulgaria. This generation is watching what he do,” he said.

“We need to tackle the demographic crisis. Steps should be taken for an open competitive environment, to improve the business environment, to take steps for small and medium-sized enterprises, because it is they, not government, that create jobs. Measures are needed in health care,” Plevneliev said.

He dwelt on the theme of the need for e-government, saying that citizens should not have to knock on doors and beg for services, but should be able to access all services online. E-government would allow for electronic voting “and then there would not be dead people on the voters’ rolls”.

Plevneliev called on politicians to undertake clear and realistic commitments and to ensure that the next Parliament did not prove citizens’ expectations to have been in vain.

“Let us adapt to the new realities. Let the new Parliament be public and open,” said Plevneliev, calling for input through public hearings on proposed laws.




The Sofia Globe staff

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