Bulgarian Parliament voted on July 24 to overturn President Roumen Radev’s veto on 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 motion carried with 129 MPs in favour and 84 opposed, mainly from opposition socialists, but also VMRO, one of the three parties in the ultra-nationalist United Patriots group that is the junior partner in the government coalition.
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 vetoing the bill, Radev 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 was the 17th time that Radev exercised his veto power since taking office in January 2017 (and has used his veto power one other time since then), with Parliament overturning the veto in all but one case, when the provision in question was withdrawn.
Bulgaria’s constitution grants the head of state a limited power of veto, through enabling the President to return legislation to the National Assembly for further discussion. The National Assembly may overturn the President’s veto through a simple majority vote.
(Bulgarian Parliament photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)