Bulgaria’s MPs passed amendments to the country’s law on referendums on July 21, making it easier to call a plebiscite but keeping the high threshold required to make the outcome of a referendum binding on Parliament.
Under the amended law, initiative committees will require 400 000 valid signatures to trigger a referendum, down from 500 000 needed previously, while amendments tabled by the socialists and nationalists – which envisioned even lower numbers – were defeated.
Another provision was added to specifically allow referendums to be held on the same day as local elections, thus paving the way to hold a referendum on election rules on October 25, when Bulgaria will hold its next local polls.
But the key provision on the validity of referendums has remained unchanged, with several amendments proposing a fixed threshold defeated on the House floor. Currently, in order for a plebiscite’s outcome to become binding on Parliament, the number of voters has to exceed the total amount of ballots cast in the previous parliamentary election.
GERB, the majority partner in the ruling coalition, had put forth such an amendment, but withdrew it during the debate preceding the vote.
(Bulgarian National Assembly photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)