In a move apparently designed to trip up the proceedings of Parliament as a show of force, Boiko Borissov’s GERB party delayed the start of the sitting on June 6 by denying it a quorum, in protest at its rough handling by the other three political parties that are co-operating to hold a majority.
After the May 12 national parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, previous ruling party GERB won the largest single share of votes but had no allies in Parliament to enable a return to power, opening the way for the second-placed socialist party to form a government.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party government was voted into office with the support of the MRF, the party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity and with the tacit support of Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalists Ataka.
On the day that the cabinet was approved, solely with the votes of the BSP and MRF, Ataka provided the vote needed for a quorum.
But on June 6, as the new Parliament was working through the process of voting on its rules of procedure, proceedings were delayed more than 30 minutes when there were too few MPs for a quorum. The GERB caucus absented itself from proceedings.
When Borissov and his MPs appeared, the former prime minister told the other three parties, “GERB was elected by a million people and we will not let you insult us here”.
The electorate had made GERB the largest political party “and we will not let you provoke and humiliate us here every day and set up committees without a quorum,” Borissov said.
He said that the other three parties were acting as if they had won the elections.
He again objected to the fact that his party, as the largest, had not been granted the convention in the Bulgarian Parliament of the Speaker being elected from its ranks. It also was normal for the largest party to have more committee chairpersons, Borissov said.
“Who is in opposition? The first political party is in opposition? We are not, of course. We are the first political party and will behave as one from now on,” he said to journalists after the GERB MPs again quit the plenary hall.
When it was put to him by a journalist that Bulgarians had not given his party enough votes to rule, Borissov responded, “they did not give the BSP and the MRF those votes either”.
GERB called for new elections and repeated its hope that the Constitutional Court would uphold its application to have the May 12 elections overturned on the grounds of what GERB alleges to have been unlawful canvassing on the previous day, the May 11 “day of contemplation”.
The BSP, however, gave short shrift to the protest by Borissov and GERB.
BSP MP Anton Koutev said that Parliament could function without the presence of GERB MPs.
Asked how Parliament could work without the 97 votes of GERB, Koutev said:
“Of course, it will be able to work. Borissov’s failure to understand democracy means he should read more books. Democracy means a voice of the majority. He has 97 MPs, not 121. Parliament can work. It does not matter whether we will have to ensure a majority through the presence in the hall or through a positive vote. One way or another, the majority is in charge of the voting and maintaining the quorum is our job. We will do it with or without Borissov.”