Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court ruled in unanimity on October 22 that socialist MP Ivan Ivanov should keep his seat in Parliament despite his short-lived appointment as Deputy Interior Minister in June, reports in Bulgarian media said.
Ivanov was appointed on June 19 and sacked just hours later, without giving further details. However, reports in several Bulgarian-language media highlighted the ties between Ivanov’s father and the highly-controversial business group SIC, which was influential during the early years of Bulgaria’s transition to democracy in the 1990s.
Bulgaria’s largest opposition party, GERB, asked the Constitutional Court to confirm that Ivanov’s term as an MP ended when his appointment decree was signed – even though his resignation from Parliament, was never voted by Parliament.
The court ruled, however, that Ivanov was never given the opportunity to sign the paperwork to take office; instead, he had only been presented with his appointment decree and then the sacking decree.
Because Ivanov never signed the paperwork to take office as deputy minister, he was never in a situation of incompatibility, the court said.
This is the second case this month where the Constitutional Court ruled against a challenge to dismiss a member of Parliament – both times, it was claimed that the MP’s appointment to a government position put an end to their term in Parliament.
The other case was that of Delyan Peevski, an MP for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and linked to a family with extensive media ownerships in Bulgaria, whose appointment as head of the State Agency for National Security (SANS) on June 14 fuelled widespread public support for anti-government protests demanding the immediate resignation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government.
The court accepted the argument that while Peevski had taken the oath and in other ways behaved as if he was the head of SANS, his departure as an MP had not been voted on by the National Assembly. The court found that at the time of the application by 96 MPs to have Peevski ruled not to be an MP, he did not fail the test of incompatibility because he was not head of SANS.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)