Few occasions, political or otherwise, can pass in Bulgaria without its Prime Minister and President getting into a tangle. October 27, local elections day, proved no exception.
The bone of contention was, again, the recent election of Ivan Geshev as Prosecutor-General, a move that has been highly controversial and that prompted protests ahead of, during and after the Supreme Judicial Council October 24 vote.
President Roumen Radev, who was outside Bulgaria when Geshev was elected but had returned by Sunday’s municipal elections, spoke to reporters after voting. Radev, who as head of state decrees the appointment of a Prosecutor-General, has been subject to calls to return the election decision to the SJC.
Radev said that he would read all the documents and his actions would be in accordance with the constitution.
“I can assure you that I will not act under pressure from any party,” he said, adding that his decision would be in the foreseeable future.
Asked to comment on Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s words that the Geshev case would be resolved during the “reign” of the President, Radev said that this was another attempt by Borissov to transfer his responsibility to someone else.
“Everyone knows very well that it is not the President who nominates and elects the Prosecutor-General, but the Supreme Judicial Council. And it is precisely at the SJC that Borissov has a huge influence in the form of the parliamentary quota, his parliamentary majority,” Radev said.
Radev said that Borissov had not been shy about replacing the Speaker of Parliament, but had avoided taking public responsibility for the vote of the people he sent to the SJC.
“He also escaped the responsibility of his Justice Minister, who was legally entitled, and in my view, obliged to nominate a second candidate in order to have a real race,” Radev said.
Borissov said that immediately after the municipal elections, the ruling majority would amend the law so that the Justice Minister would not have the right to nominate a candidate Prosecutor-General, so that there could be no accusations of a party candidate being appointed.
“GERB will not nominate a party candidate, that is hypocrisy,” Borissov said. He said that if Justice Minister Danail Kirilov had nominated a candidate Prosecutor-General, “and if GERB had chosen the Prosecutor-General, would we have trusted him?”
Borissov said that Radev had broken the law on election day by allowing himself to campaign for GERB’s opponents.
“When you talk about the leader of a party, it shows that you are not even-handed. And when you utter falsehoods in this way, you are misleading the voter as well – a second offence,” Borissov said.
“They are campaigning, campaigning, then they call for the rule of law – oh, hang on, come off it!” he said.
Borissov said that Radev had misled voters on election day, campaigning for the opponents of Borissov’s party and against Borissov “in a very subtle, Jesuit way”.