Bulgarian President Plevneliev: Parliament failing citizens’ expectations
Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev says that the country is in a combination of several crises – political, parliamentary, demographic and economic – and has criticised Parliament for failing to live up to citizens’ expectations.
Plevneliev’s comments on October 3 came after the latest of several days of melodrama in the National Assembly around the no-confidence motion in the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet, a motion that was defeated after struggles to secure a quorum and other procedural wrangling.
He said that the events around the motion of no confidence did not strengthen citizens’ confidence in the country’s institutions.
Parliament was democratically elected but was focusing more on “partisan bickering and procedural tricks” rather than on citizens’ problems, Plevneliev said. “I hope this will change.”
He said that he wished that Parliament would return to its main mission, because the nation needed this to happen.
“What is left after the debates is Ataka leader Volen Siderov’s words ‘I was absent for four days and the state would have collapsed without me.’ This is important to remember and know. I truly hope next time there will be debates, responsible decisions, arguments and counterarguments in Parliament, rather than unprincipled procedural tricks that take to no direction. I am strongly worried by citizens’ record-low confidence in Parliament,” Plevneliev said.
He was speaking a day after the release of the findings of a poll by the Alpha Research agency showing the 42nd National Assembly, elected in May 2013, to have an approval rating of 11 per cent – outdoing in the negative stakes even the BSP government, which had an approval rating of all of 23 per cent. The same poll showed that 76 per cent of Bulgarians wanted early parliamentary elections.
Plevneliev said that dealing with the crises required a responsible attitude.
“Bulgaria will improve in one way and, at that, a very elementary one – when we have long-term priorities, when there is consensus on them and when you work on these long-term priorities consistently and when there are results. Unfortunately, we see temporary struggles, a partisan approach and lack of consistent efforts on long-term national priorities,” Plevneliev said.
Speaking to reporters, the President said that a wave of dismissals by the government was being seen, “which I think is another purge in a row of the Bulgarian administration”.
However, he declined to comment specifically on the October 2 dismissal of the head of the State Agency for Refugees, Nikola Kazakov, who was fired by the cabinet for non-performance in the face of the capacity crisis faced by Bulgaria because of a sharp increase in the number of Syrian refugees.
“As President I can hardly comment on the actions of the government which are in their competence. It is their right. This is their decision.”
Since coming to power, the Bulgarian Socialist Party government has dismissed or accepted the resignations of a significant number of heads of state agencies and government departments, in what critics have described as a politically-motivated purge.