Bulgaria’s 2017 elections: Borissov’s GERB party presents governance programme

Ahead of Bulgaria’s March 2017 early parliamentary elections, Boiko Borissov’s GERB party has presented its governance programme, envisaging a large increase in the minimum wage, doubling teachers’ salaries over four years, scrapping MPs’ immunity and reforms to the judicial system.

Borissov has been Bulgaria’s prime minister twice, from 2009 to early 2013 and again from November 2014 until January 2017. In both cases, he submitted his government’s resignation ahead of term.

At a presentation of the proposed governance programme on February 3, Vladislav Goranov, finance minister in Borissov’s second cabinet, said that the minimum monthly wage could be increased to 650 leva (about 332 euro) and the average salary could reach 1500 leva. The current minimum wage is 460 leva.

GERB deputy leader and Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, a former school director who was briefly education minister in Borissov’s first cabinet, outlined the party’s proposals on education, seen as a priority in its election platform.

The party envisages doubling the salaries of Bulgaria’s teachers over a four-year period, as well as measures to ensure that Roma children attend school. Families whose children do not start school from pre-school will not receive welfare payments.

Funding for schools will not depend on the number of children in a school. There will be a support programme for young scientists. The number of psychologists at schools will be increased to reduce aggression at schools and sports activities will be stepped up.

Ekaterina Zaharieva, the second of two justice ministers in Borissov’s second cabinet – the first, Hristo Ivanov, resigned out of frustration with inadequate judicial reform and now has his own party standing in the March elections – presented GERB’s judicial reform proposals.

These include creating a single body to fight corruption in the higher echelons of power.

In government, GERB would propose abolishing the immunity that members of Parliament have from prosecution (a step that would require a constitutional amendment).

Zaharieva said that the commission on the confiscation of property acquired through crime would begin to act uncompromisingly, taking the property of anyone who could not prove its origins.

She said that GERB would bring to an end the endless formalism in the judicial process. E-justice would be introduced so that trials could be monitored online. Sentences would be implemented immediately after the close of a trial at last instance. Criminals would be monitored electronically so that they could not evade justice by escaping the country.

The Prosecutor-General would be required to report to Parliament every three months. Zaharieva said that GERB was committed to implementing by the end of 2018 all 17 recommendations in the European Commission’s report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, intended to bring Bulgaria up to EU standards in justice and home affairs.

GERB also pledged to have police in every village to fight crime and to install monitoring cameras in every traffic police car.

GERB posted on its website a photo of one of its deputy leaders, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, with new US secretary of state Rex Tillerson at Donald Trump’s prayer breakfast. Tsvetanov wished Tillerson success in his new post and expressed hope that bilateral relations between Bulgaria and the US would continue to grow in the same upward direction as in recent years, the party said.




The Sofia Globe staff

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