Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said on July 16 that he has vetoed the 2019 Budget Act revision that cut the state subsidies for political parties and coalitions that got more than one per cent of the vote at the most recent election from 11 leva (about 5.5 euro) to one lev.
The bill was passed by Parliament earlier this month after it emerged that state subsidies for political parties and coalitions had been overpaid to the tune of many millions of leva. Some parties have already paid back the amounts they were paid in excess, while the others have until the end of 2020 to do so.
By reducing the party subsidy to one lev per vote, the Budget revision also implemented one of the outcomes of the 2016 referendum on electoral rules – even though the plebiscite fell short of the required turnout that would have made it mandatory.
In his veto motives, Radev said that he welcomed “the civic position taken by more than 2.5 million Bulgarian citizens at a national referendum” to reduce state financing for political parties, but said that the amendments that allowed corporate donations to parties “undermined the constitutional foundations of Bulgarian democracy.”
“This modifies the constitutional model of the political system without changing the constitution. The amendments make political parties dependent on business, which will finance their existence,” Radev said.
“Instead of performing their constitutional role to form the political will of the people, parties are being tied to the profits of business entities, part of which will return to them in the form of donations.”
Radev warned that the changes to party financing will create an “abundant growth medium for corruption.” Furthermore, the corporate donations were likely to benefit primarily the parties in government “because they distribute the public purse and determine the winners of concession and public procurement tenders,” he said.
This is the 17th time that Radev exercised his veto power since taking office in January 2017, with Parliament overturning the veto in all but one case, when the provision in question was withdrawn.
On several occasions, he followed through with a Constitutional Court challenge, where has been more successful in blocking legislation, such as in April, when the court ruled to overturn a provision from Corporate Tax Act amendments passed last year that introduced a higher tax rate on properties in resort areas.