Bulgarian president-elect Roumen Radev has rejected calls to prolong the life of the current Parliament, made by Boiko Borissov’s GERB party to allow time to amend electoral laws.
GERB made the calls because it wants to change Bulgaria’s electoral system to a wholly majoritarian one instead of the current proportional representation system. It has made the move against the background of a vote in a national referendum in November 2016.
In that referendum, while the outcome fell below the statutory threshold to make the vote binding on the National Assembly, there was large majority support for, among other things, a majoritarian system for electing MPs.
Radev, in a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly made public on January 10, said that any attempt to prolong the life of the 43rd National Assembly would be contrary to the constitution and a Constitutional Court ruling.
This ruling was that action by the President, after the failure to form an elected government, to appoint a caretaker government, dissolve the National Assembly and decree a date for parliamentary elections was “overriding and urgent”.
Outgoing President Rossen Plevneliev could not dissolve the National Assembly or decree an election date because he is in the final three months of his term in office and, as such, the constitution forbids him from doing so.
In a controversial move, Plevneliev declined to appoint a caretaker cabinet, and left the administration headed by Borissov in office.
Radev, who takes office as head of state on January 22 following his victory in November 2016 on a ticket backed by the opposition socialists, said that he intended adhering strictly to the constitution.
He noted that the new sitting of the 43rd National Assembly opens on January 11.
Already in mid-November, a draft resolution had been tabled in parliamentary committees on the outcome of the November referendum, and later a bill of proposed amendments to the Electoral Code had been tabled.
Two months had passed, during which MPs had enjoyed a parliamentary recess “which is their right but also their decision,” Radev said.
It was bewildering that the topic was being revived days before the dissolution of the current Parliament.
Radev said that he believed that in the days remaining, MPs would approach their work responsibly and with respect for the will of Bulgaria’s voters.
“I take this opportunity to wish the 43rd National Assembly fruitful work in the days remaining until its dissolution,” Radev said.