A June 5 sitting of Bulgaria’s National Assembly that had been due to discuss amendments to health insurance and forestry laws was cancelled after failing to secure a quorum after opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms MPs failed to register as present.
Three attempts were made to secure a quorum to begin proceedings before the Friday sitting was cancelled.
Customarily, Parliament holds Question Time on Fridays, but this had been removed from the June 5 agenda to deal with the Health Insurance Act and Forestry Act amendments.
Tsveta Karayancheva, an MP for centre-right GERB, the majority partner in the coalition government, accused the BSP and MRF of irresponsibility for failing to register.
She said that because of the opposition, the attempt to rapidly approve Forestry Act amendments that would ban felling of trees at night – a move intended against the illegal tree-felling business – had failed.
Someone deliberately wanted the work of the National Assembly sabotaged to prevent the first reading of the Forestry Act amendments, Karayancheva said.
Valeri Simeonov, co-leader of the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition, told reporters that it made sense that the MRF had not registered because the Forestry Act was on the agenda and the moratorium on timber exports was expiring.
“Naturally, everyone knows that the MRF is the basis of the so-called ‘wood mafia’,” Simeonov said, adding that this was most likely the reason why the MRF had not registered.
Aliosman Imamov of the MRF said that failure to register was a “legitimate parliamentary procedure” that had been repeated frequently in the previous parliament.
“We learnt this trick from GERB,” he said, a reference to the numerous occasions that the previous parliament had lacked a quorum because its largest party had absented itself.
Imamov rejected allegations that the MRF failure to register was linked to the Forestry Act amendments being on the agenda.
He said that the highest proportion of absentees was from the Reformist Bloc, the centre-right minority partner in the cabinet. “They had more ministers than MPs (here),” Imamov said.
Mihail Mikov, leader of the BSP, said that it was clear that the ruling majority had problems.
Mikov, who was Speaker of the now-departed 42nd National Assembly at the time of the 2013/14 BSP-MRF ruling axis, said that it was GERB that had said that securing a quorum was the responsibility of the ruling majority.
He denied that the BSP had a deal with the MRF to prevent the June 5 sitting.