With the support of members of the parties of Bulgaria’s ruling axis – the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Movement for Rights and Freedoms and ultra-nationalists Ataka – Parliament’s legal committee has approved a move to fine MPs whose absence results in the National Assembly lacking a quorum for a sitting.
The idea, proposed by BSP MP Maya Manolova, who is also one of Parliament’s deputy presiding officers, is apparently directed at centre-right opposition party GERB.
Former prime minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB, the largest single party in Parliament but also the opposition, has previously pointedly denied Parliament a quorum in what it described as a demonstration of the current ruling administration’s dependence on Volen Siderov’s Ataka.
MPs whose absence results in a lack of a quorum will be fined two-thirds of their pay for the day.
According to a report by Mediapool, BSP MPs argued that this provision had been in Parliament’s rules up to the 41st National Assembly – the previous Parliament – but had been deleted when GERB was in power.
A proposal by Ataka that if an MP is absent without a justified reason from three consecutive sittings or five sittings a month, that MP would not receive a salary for that month, was defeated in the face of opposition from the BSP, MRF and GERB. However, a proposal for a lesser fine for such absences was accepted.
In the first few months of the current, 42nd, National Assembly, GERB boycotted proceedings, although at the time it said that it would make exceptions for debates on electoral law reforms.
GERB took part in Parliament when it debated controversial amendments to Budget 2013, and when the National Assembly resumed after the summer recess, Borissov’s party has largely taken part in sittings.
However, there have been episodes when Ataka MPs were absent and GERB declined to formally register as present.
Recently, adopting a proposal by the MRF, Parliament has taken to holding special sittings on Tuesdays, to catch up on agenda items not dealt with because of quorum problems.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)