A bid by the two parties in Bulgaria’s ruling axis to overturn President Rossen Plevneliev’s veto of amendments to the Competition Protection Act has failed.
The vote to overturn the veto, held in the National Assembly on July 11, saw 98 MPs from the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms vote in favour, falling short of the 121 required.
Members of Parliament for centre-right opposition party GERB voted against, while ultra-nationalists Ataka remained absent from the parliamentary floor (the party’s votes were key on the seven previous occasions that the current legislature was successful in overturning Plevneliev’s vetoes).
The bill, passed by the National Assembly on June 18, indirectly amends the Foodstuffs Act, namely the provisions governing relations between retail chains and their suppliers. According to socialist MP Rumen Gechev, the bill’s author, the amendments are meant to prevent unfair competition by large retail chains.
In a statement announcing his reasoning for the veto on June 30, Plevneliev welcomed Parliament’s desire to “create the conditions for the development of produce growth, delivery and distribution, as well as preventing unfair trade practices” but said that the bill was missing an assessment of the impact that the changes would have on consumers.
His office said that it is “unacceptable not to have a preliminary assessment how the new regulations will reflect on the public and especially the most vulnerable social groups.”
After the vote, the MPs agreed to rush through the re-worked bill, with only three days given to submit further amendments to it.
The current legislature is due to be prorogued on August 6, as part of an agreement between political parties to pave the way for early elections. Given the issues with parliamentary quorum in recent weeks, it is far from certain that the reworked bill will be passed before that date, nor is safe from another presidential veto.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)