Strike three on day three of Bulgaria’s parliamentary ‘no confidence’ drama

Three successive attempts failed to achieve a quorum for the September 27 sitting of Bulgaria’s Parliament, which was scheduled to debate and vote on a motion for the resignation of the Speaker, and later to vote on Boiko Borissov’s opposition party GERB’s motion of no confidence in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government.

The failure was the result of the absence of GERB and Ataka MPs.

After the first abortive attempt at 9am, socialist Speaker Mihail Mikov adjourned the gathering for 30 minutes. A further two attempts in rapid succession half an hour later failed.

Mikov called on MPs to use the electronic voting system to register their presence. He did not resort to the controversial method of a manual head count by tellers, which the previous day had caused indignation on the part of GERB, which alleges this method to be unconstitutional and which led to Borissov’s party tabling a motion demanding Mikov’s dismissal as Speaker.

Apparently to be on the safe side lest Mikov try the same move again, no GERB MPs sat in the House. Only BSP and Movement for Rights and Freedoms parliamentary groups were present, while Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalists Ataka continued their third day of absence from proceedings. Ataka’s MPs are in Brussels, holding meetings the purpose of which the party has not made clear.

Given that Ataka’s MPs would be required to produce the 121 registrations to allow a quorum, on September 25 Borissov’s party took the unconventional step of not registering as present, preventing that day’s sitting which had been intended to debate the motion of no confidence that it had tabled on the grounds of the non-performance of the Investment Planning Ministry announced when the BSP government took power in May 2013.

Borissov indicated that the GERB boycott of proceedings was intended to illustrate the Bulgarian Socialist Party government’s dependence on Ataka.

September 26 saw even more turbulent events, as the no-confidence debate was held in the absence of GERB, resulting in the bizarre spectacle of the debate featuring only those who spoke against the motion.

Borissov’s party insisted that the September 26 debate was procedurally illegitimate and said that it would again table a motion of no confidence on the same grounds as before.

On Friday, in announcing that the 42nd National Assembly again had no quorum, Mikov did not say whether the day’s sitting would be cancelled entirely. But given that the third attempt to establish a quorum secured only 111 MPs, 10 fewer than required, a repeat of the Wednesday cancellation was seen as likely.

Mikov alluded to this, saying, “apparently today will continue with news conferences and conversations with the media in the lobby”.

In what appeared to be the improbable event of a quorum being secured, voting on the no-confidence motion was scheduled to be held at 11am on September 27, the required 24 hours since the close of debate.

Whenever the vote is held, it is widely regarded as impossible for the motion of no confidence in the BSP government to succeed. Together, the BSP and MRF have 120 votes, GERB has 97 and Ataka 23. Approval of the motion would require 121 votes, which currently GERB could not muster.

Proceedings , or lack of them, were accompanied outside the building of Parliament by a gathering of anti-government protesters, demanding the resignation of the government and fresh elections. This gathering ended, in large measure, after it seemed clear that Parliament would not sit, and when it began to rain.




The Sofia Globe staff

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