Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court rules Peevski still an MP
Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court has ruled against a second challenge to dismiss controversial media magnate Delyan Peevski as a member of Parliament, ruling that an MP’s term could only be terminated early by an explicit Parliament decision.
The challenge, put forth by President Rossen Plevneliev, argued that by appointing Peevski as director of the State Agency for National Security (SANS) on June 14 – a decision that sparked continuing public protests demanding the resignation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, whose MPs joined with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) in voting Peevski into office – automatically ended Peevski’s term as an MP.
Peevski submitted his resignation to Parliament after his appointment, but retracted it when his appointment drew thousands of people to the streets in protest. Several days later, on June 19, Parliament voted to cancel the appointment, even though Peevski had already taken the oath of office and, according to reports in local media, held several meetings in his new capacity.
The court said that the early termination of an MP’s term has to be voted by the National Assembly. If the MP refuses to submit a resignation from Parliament, thus creating a situation of incompatibility, or Parliament voted against accepting the resignation, then the Constitutional Court had to step in to solve the dispute, the court said.
Five of the 12 judges on the court had a dissenting opinion, which is yet to be posted on the Constitutional Court’s website.
The court decided earlier to merge part of Plevneliev’s challenge against Peevski retaining his seat as an MP with a question submitted by the ruling socialist-MRF axis asking the Constitutional Court to clarify under which conditions an MP’s term can be terminated early.
However, the court is yet to rule on the second part of Plevneliev’s challenge, which the judges admitted as a stand-alone case – namely whether Parliament had the power to cancel an appointment, as it did with its vote on June 19. A ruling in this case is expected next month, at the earliest.
If the court rules that the vote to cancel Peevski’s appointment was unconstitutional, as argued by Plevneliev’s legal team, this would mean that SANS has two directors – Peevski and Vladimir Pisanchev, appointed by Parliament on July 19 – creating a quandary that could be solved only by one of the two directors resigning.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)