GERB, the largest party in the National Assembly and the majority partner in Boiko Borissov’s coalition government, tabled on May 10 a bill to introduce a majoritarian system for electing MPs.
Both opposition parties, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, do not want a fully majoritarian system, preferring instead a mixed system with elements of proportional representation and majoritarian representation.
If approved, the bill would result in each of Bulgaria’s 240 MPs being elected from single-mandate constituencies in two rounds.
There would not be separate constituencies for Bulgarians abroad. Expatriates’ votes would be counted according to their most recent registered residential address in Bulgaria.
It was not immediately clear how this would work in the case of the holder of a Bulgarian passport who has never lived in Bulgaria – as would be the case with people who have citizenship by descent.
There would be a system of active registration for voting in elections by Bulgarians abroad.
GERB also is proposing reducing the state subsidy for political parties represented in Parliament to one lev (about 51 euro cents) per valid vote in the most recent National Assembly elections.
The GERB proposals are largely in line with the vote in the 2016 three-question national referendum, which saw an outcome in favour of a majoritarian voting system and the cutting of state subsidies to a lev. However, turnout in the referendum was below the threshold to be binding on the National Assembly.
According to Danail Kirilov, an MP for Borissov’s party, the bill “fulfilled 100 per cent the will of the Bulgarian voter”.
Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova said that her party’s proposals for a mixed system would be tabled as amendments to the bill.
The BSP also will propose a reduction of party subsidies, and again put forward its proposal – defeated last week – to freeze the salaries of MPs.
MRF leader Mustafa Karadaya said that his bill would study the GERB bill. He said that there should be a seminar on the issue, “because a lot of experts have spoken on the subject”.
“On the part of the MRF, we think we know the subject and matter very well and we deal with it very responsibly, not on the basis of some or another whim,” he said.
GERB parliamentary group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov, referring to differences between his party and coalition government minority partner the United Patriots, said that the bill would not cause a rift between the two.
The leader of the National Assembly’s smallest party, Vesselin Mareshki’s Volya – which has 12 MPs – said that his party would support GERB’s bill.
(Photo: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)