Bulgaria’s former head of state, Rossen Plevneliev, has for the second time this month sharply criticised his successor, incumbent President Roumen Radev, over what Plevneliev said that were the first mistakes by Radev in fewer than 100 days in office.
Plevneliev, who was president from 2012 to January 2017 but did not stand for re-election and was succeeded by socialist-backed Radev, said that the single biggest mistake had been the attempt to limit the voting rights of Bulgarians abroad.
“This can create a big problem,” Plevneliev said, referring to a draft bill – posted on the Justice Ministry website but swiftly taken offline as controversy erupted around it – that would have introduced a domicile requirement for voting in presidential and parliamentary elections. The draft bill was widely slammed as obviously unconstitutional.
Plevneliev, speaking at the April 21 launch of his Solutions for the Future foundation at Sofia Tech Park, said that it was not appropriate for the Bulgarian head of state to sow division. “Bulgarians abroad are part of the Bulgarian people,” he said.
Plevneliev said that Radev’s second big mistake was focusing solely on Turkey when it came to interference in Bulgarian domestic affairs.
“Not one but more countries are trying to influence the election process in Bulgaria. Above all, the spotlight should be directed to Russia. Russia organised the largest attack on the websites of the Bulgarian state institutions on the day of the referendum and local elections in 2015, “Plevneliev said.
Plevneliev also lashed out at Radev over the president’s interference in the work of the caretaker government.
“President Radev left us with the feeling that there was constant and excessive pressure on the government. That should not be the case,” he said.
Earlier, on April 11, Plevneliev also said that it was inappropriate for the head of state to attempt to limit the electoral rights of Bulgarian citizens.
Plevneliev said that the place for debating and amending electoral law was the National Assembly.
Until now, no head of state had fallen into a situation in which there were attempts to seek changes to electoral law through mechanisms other than Parliament, he said.
Bulgaria currently is in the stewardship of a caretaker government, appointed by Radev in late January 2017. Following the March parliamentary elections, an elected government is expected to be voted into office in early May.