Bulgarian MPs elected Ivan Ivanov as the new head of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) on April 2, but a walk-out by opposition socialists left the regulator with one vacancy still to fill.
Ivanov, a former MP for the centre-right Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria – one of the constituent parties of the Reformist Bloc coalition backing the government of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov – was elected with 145 votes in favour, including from the opposition Bulgarian Democratic Centre and Movement for Rights and Freedoms parties.
This prompted accusations from the socialists that the nine seats in EWRC had been parcelled up well in advance of the vote. The party said that it would withdraw its nominee Dimitar Kochkov (the only one out of the six names put forth by the socialists that were elected).
Kochkov was the only member elected by MPs not to take the oath of office on April 2, raising the prospect that another vote would have to be held to fill the vacancy.
The other seven regulator member elected by Parliament included two former heads of the regulator, previously known as the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC), in Svetla Todorova and Evgenia Haritonova. Another former head of SEWRC, Boyan Boev, who was sacked last year by the Georgi Bliznashki caretaker cabinet, did not win enough support to be elected.
Ivanov is the first head of the utilities regulator appointed by Parliament, following recent amendments that changed the EWRC management structure. Previously, the commission’s head was appointed by the Cabinet.
Under the new law, the regulator will have separate colleges ruling on energy and water issues.
Ivanov has served four terms as an MP between 1997 and 2013 and has a doctoral degree in electrical engineering. After the vote, he said that one of the main tasks of the new college of commissioners would be to “increase the independence and authority” of the regulator.
(Bulgarian Parliament. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)