Bulgaria’s lawmakers elected judge Teodora Tochkova as the new chief judiciary inspector on April 2, filling in one of the key positions in the country’s judicial system.
The head of the inspectorate to the Supreme Judicial Council, elected to a five-year term, is so important because the inspectorate is the main institution tasked with control over the judiciary and improving judicial discipline. The inspectorate is also one of the key institutions tracked by the European Commission as part of its continued monitoring of Bulgaria’s judicial reforms through the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism.
Tochkova’s appointment comes more than two years since the end of the term of the previous chief inspector, Ana Karaivanova, succeeding at the third attempt. Karaivanova has served on a caretaker basis since her term expired and her attempts to speed up the appointment process by tendering her resignation were unsuccessful, as Parliament never voted on her resignation.
The appointment requires a qualified majority of 160 MPs, which is why the process took so long to complete – in January 2014, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s party GERB, then in opposition, declined to support the sole nominee (amid some controversy concerning some property deals by the nominee’s immediate family), which led to the cancellation of the election.
A second attempt in the summer of 2014 fell through because Parliament was dissolved to make way for early elections before holding a vote. Tochkova and fellow judge Vera Chochkova were the two candidates in the race, same as this time around.
Tochkova, who is a judge at the Haskovo district administrative court, was voted by 195 out of 197 MPs present in the House, winning the support of all parties in the ruling coalition and the opposition, with the sole exception of ultra-nationalist Ataka, which did not participate in the vote, and one non-affiliated MP who voted against.
(Justice Palace in Sofia. Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis/flickr.com)