Bulgarian Constitutional Court rules Parliament cannot reject an MP’s resignation

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court ruled on January 30 that the National Assembly acted unconstitutionally in rejecting the resignation of MP Delyan Dobrev last year, but stopped short of barring him from the House benches.

The court said in a statement that the vote on the decision was seven to four, with two of the dissenting judges disagreeing with the substance of the ruling while another two argued that the issue should not have been ruled admissible in the first place.

Dobrev, an MP for Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, is chairperson of Parliament’s energy committee and was economy, energy and tourism minister in Borissov’s 2009 cabinet.

He submitted his resignation from Parliament after sustained attacks from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party over alleged nepotism in Haskovo municipality. Just days later, the National Assembly voted to reject his resignation on October 4 2017, prompting the formal complaint to the Constitutional Court from the socialist group in Parliament.

In its decision, the Constitutional Court said that the National Assembly was required to accept an MP’s resignation and had no legitimate grounds, under article 72 of the constitution, to reject the resignation. Furthermore, by doing so it was infringing on Dobrev’s human rights, such as free will (guaranteed by article 6 of the constitution) and freedom to choose one’s profession and place of employment (article 48 of the constitution.)

The fact that Dobrev later withdrew his resignation was immaterial, what mattered was that Parliament rejected the resignation.

However, with Dobrev’s resignation withdrawn, the matter of his future as a member of Parliament was not subject to the court’s decisions, but up to the National Assembly, since it is the only institution that can end an MP’s term under the constitution, the ruling said.

“For that reason, this ruling, which cannot have retroactive effect to start with, does not answer the question of Delyan Dobrev’s status as an MP,” the court said in its ruling.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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