Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on July 26 to overturn President Roumen Radev’s veto of the ratification of four contracts that will enable the country’s acquisition of eight US-made F-16 fighter jets to go ahead.
His veto was overturned by 128 votes to 73, with three abstentions, after a debate lasting just more than two hours.
For the opposition, Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Roumen Gechev called for support for Radev’s veto, saying that the price of the F-16 fighter jets was extremely high and the deal had hidden costs.
Hristo Gadzhev of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party rejected Gechev’s claims and accused the opposition of spreading falsehoods about the deal.
The F-16 package has been supported by GERB, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov’s VMRO party. It is opposed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Valeri Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, Volen Siderov’s Ataka and the populist Volya party.
The ratification vote on July 19 was one element of the National Assembly’s proceedings that day related to the F-16 deal. The others were approval of Budget amendments linked to the $1.25 billion deal and approval of an industrial co-operation contract between Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry and F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
The veto of the ratification of the four contracts is the 18th 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office in January 2017, with Parliament overturning the veto in all but one case, when the provision in question was withdrawn.