Bulgaria’s political drama: The Turkish and Turkey controversies

The vote in Turkey and the unlawful use of the Turkish language were among the key controversies on the eve of the first sitting on May 21 of Bulgaria’s newly-elected National Assembly.

Lyutvi Mestan, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – the party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent – was fined 2000 leva (about 1000 euro) by Sliven regional governor Marin Kavrukov for canvassing in the Turkish language.

Bulgarian electoral law permits election campaigning to be conducted only in Bulgarian.

Meanwhile, the Order Law and Justice party, represented in the previous Parliament but which failed to win any seats in the 42nd National Assembly, announced on May 19 that it was lodging a Constitutional Court challenge to votes cast in Turkey.

Order Law and Justice party leader Yane Yanev alleged that a large number of the votes cast in Turkey were unlawful.

In past elections, votes cast in Bulgaria’s neighbour have tended overwhelmingly to go to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

Should the Constitutional Court agree to the application, the result could be the shedding of a number of MRF MPs in the 42nd National Assembly, to the benefit mainly of Boiko Borissov’s GERB party and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, respectively the two that got the largest shares of votes. Possibly, elimination of large numbers of Turkish votes could challenge the balance in a way that brings at least one other party over the threshold into Parliament.

Yanev said that he had submitted the documents about the situation in Turkey to Prime Minister Marin Raykov and had presented his party’s arguments in favour of the complaints.

“I outlined the irregularities in Turkey and I rely on the Bulgarian Council of Ministers to be reasonable and yield in no way to any influence from outside. It would be a dangerous precedent, if the Council of Ministers prefers to play the role of an arbiter in this dispute between a political party, which according to the Constitution and laws has the right to contest the election results, and the Bulgarian Constitutional Court,” Yanev said.

Raykov, according to Yanev, had committed to tabling the issue at a meeting of the Council of Ministers and “we insist that this should happen within seven days, as the law states,” Yanev said.

However, the Cabinet media office said that Prime Minister Raykov had made no commitment and could make no commitment about what the Government would decide before it met and there was agreement among the ministers in the Cabinet.

Raykov assured OLJ leader Yanev that he would immediately initiate the necessary legal consultations about the government’s legal duties in the case and steps in line with the country’s laws are to be made, the statement said.

* Tsvetan Tsvetanov, deputy leader of GERB, told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television on May 20 that he was sure that in a few months Bulgaria would face new parliamentary elections.

He said that he expected that many untrue statements would be made soon.

Like Borissov, he underlined that there were profound policy differences among the three parties – the BSP, MRF and Ataka – that would be supporting the “programme government” that the socialists would propose, to be led by Plamen Oresharski.

Tsvetanov said that this government was another tripartite coalition disguised as a technocrat government.

He said that GERB would propose, at the first meeting of Parliament, the re-election of GERB’s Tsetska Tsacheva as Speaker.

• The 42nd National Assembly will meet for the first time on May 21 at 10am, Parliament’s media centre said. Before a Speaker is elected, the oldest MP – Stefan Danailov – will act as presiding officer. After MPs are sworn in and the anthems of Bulgaria and the European Union are played, President Rossen Plevneliev will make a special address to Parliament. There also will be speeches by political parties and coalitions elected to Parliament. After a Speaker is elected and has delivered a speech, deputy speakers will be elected and a resolution on interim rules of procedure adopted.

(Photo of Mestan: dps.bg)



The Sofia Globe staff

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