Choosing his words carefully and underlining that he intended no unconstitutional intervention or political brokerage, President Rossen Plevneliev urged the parties in power to carefully analyse the message sent by Bulgarians in the European Parliament elections and urged dialogue to bring the country out of its crisis.
Plevneliev was speaking on May 30 at a special briefing, broadcast live, in response to Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections five days earlier.
In those elections, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, current holder of the mandate to govern, was handed a distant second place by voters. This has led to renewed calls by opposition parties for the government to step down for fresh parliamentary elections. Ahead of Plevneliev’s May 30 briefing, the parties of the ruling axis voted to reject a motion of no confidence tabled by opposition party GERB – winner of the European Parliament elections – that Boiko Borissov’s party had tabled on May 16.
But Plevneliev underlined that he would keep strictly to the provisions of the constitution’s rules on the role of the head of state.
He emphasised that he was willing to be part of a solution to the political crisis, but said that this could be in the form of working meetings or conversations, not “consultations” because the latter was a formal process triggered only by a decision of the National Assembly.
Plevneliev said that no one should be expect him to get involved in mediation and political brokerage, while adding that it was important for a coutnr to have stability and functioning institutions.
He issued a reminder that for more than a year, Bulgaria had seen instability, a combination of crises and low public confidence in the institutions of state and government.
“I appeal to those in power to analyse what voters told them on Sunday,” Plevneliev said.
He praised the outcome of the elections in that Bulgarians had strongly reaffirmed their choice of the European value system and civilisation, with Plevneliev saying that voters had sent no anti-European parties to the European Parliament.
Plevneliev, who since becoming head of state has regularly held scheduled discussions with parties represented in the National Assembly, was asked whether he would hold talks with the Bulgaria Without Censorship party and the Reformist Bloc. These two parties have no seats in the National Assembly, having been formed after the May 2013 elections, but won places in the European Parliament.
In particular, BWC leader Nikolai Barekov, whose party in coalition with a few minor players won 10.66 per cent of the vote in the European Parliament elections, has been seeking to underline what he sees as his importance in Bulgarian politics, and has called for parties to hold consultations with Plevneliev on the dissolution of the National Assembly and early parliamentary elections.
With some finesse, Plevneliev replied that, as head of state, he would invite to a meeting all of those (from all parties) who had been elected as Bulgaria’s 17 MEPs.
Plevneliev repeated that the only appropriate long-term solution in Bulgaria was to have a dialogue among political parties, and called for debate that was civilised and responsible.
Asked about consultations with political parties after the European Parliament elections, Plevneliev said that he had not been holding “consultations” but had spoken with Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Lyutvi Mestan, a conversation with GERB leader Boiko Borissov was forthcoming, and he also had invited BSP leader Sergei Stanishev “and I hope that he responds to my invitation”.
Plevneliev said that the purpose of these talks was to hear from political leaders how they saw the European Parliament elections and the situation in the country after them.
The President reiterated his opposition to matters being dealt with on the basis of behind-the-scenes deals.
He noted that there had been large-scale use of preferential voting in the European Parliament elections, using this point to underline that in the five months since it was made, his call for a national referendum on electoral reform – including majoritarian voting – had been disregarded.
Plevneliev also expressed concern about vote-buying and other forms of “control” in the elections, calling on institutions to act firmly against those involved.