Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court agrees to hear case against President’s decree on election commission
Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court said on April 3 2014 that it had agreed to hear an application lodged against President Rossen Plevneliev’s decree sharing out the seats on the Central Election Commission (CEC)..
While a battle in Parliament was continuing about the composition of the CEC, Plevneliev issued a decree on the proportions of the seats to be handed to political parties represented in the National Assembly or holding shares of Bulgaria’s seats in the current European Parliament.
The largest share went to GERB, which also is the largest party in the 42nd National Assembly, one fewer seats to the Bulgarian Socialist Party, current holder of the mandate to govern, while ruling axis partner the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and ultra-nationalists Ataka got the same number.
Initially, this led to – among other disputes – one between GERB and the MRF, which was resolved with a deal by which the MRF would support GERB’s bid to get a deputy chairpersonship of the CEC, as the law entitled GERB to, while GERB and the MRF agreed to table amendments to enlarge the commission. This latter move was seen as compensation for the MRF, which would benefit from more representation on the CEC.
The first reading of amendments to increase the number of members of the CEC was approved on April 3, with GERB and the MRF voting in favour, the BSP voting against and Ataka abstaining.
The BSP, meanwhile, has issued a series of near-hysterical statements attacking Plevneliev for his decree, which the party along with the MRF lodged an application in the Constitutional Court to have overturned.
BSP MP Maya Manolova, announcing on April 2 that the application to the Constitutional Court had been signed by 117 members of Parliament, alleged that Plevneliev’s decree had violated two constitutional principles, the supremacy of the constitutional state and the principle of the separation of powers.
She claimed that Plevneliev had violated the “imperative norm” of the Election Code which described the allocation of seats in the CEC.
It was Manolova who was given the task in 2013 of driving through Parliament a new electoral law. A final version, dogged with controversy and which took several days to make it through the second-reading stage, was approved by the National Assembly. Parts of the electoral law were vetoed by Plevneliev but the Constitutional Court overturned this veto.
Manolova has alleged that Plevneliev is biased towards GERB, the party on whose ticket he was elected as head of state in late 2011, defeating a socialist rival.
Meanwhile, a Bulgaria prepares for its European Parliament elections on May 25, GERB was the first to register at the CEC on April 3 to stand in the elections. In doing so, Boiko Borissov’s party was keeping to a tradition it had established in 2007 of always being first in the queue to register.
Also registering the same day was the Reformist Bloc, an alliance of a number of centre-right and right-wing parties currently without seats in the National Assembly.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)