One week after Bulgarian President Roumen Radev asked the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to reconsider its decision to elect Ivan Geshev to be the country’s next Prosecutor-General, the council held a second vote with the same outcome as the first on October 24, approving Geshev’s nomination by 20 votes to four.
Radev’s reasoning for not signing the decree to appoint Geshev and sending the decision back to the SJC was that Geshev was the only nominee, noting that “the hallmark of a democratic state is the presence of an alternative.”
But instead of re-opening the appointment process to allow for other nominees, the SJC decided, after some debate, to only hold a repeat vote.
The rest of the five-hour sitting was spent in discussion about whether there was political interference in the appointment process and on statements of support for Geshev’s nomination, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio reported.
After the ballot, Geshev thanked the SJC members and “the professional community” for their support, vowing to “do everything possible to justify your trust.” He also thanked them for “not caving in to the unprecedented political pressure and made a purely professional choice within the boundaries of the law, the constitution and in the name of Bulgaria.”
This time Radev does not have the option to not sign the decree appointing Geshev as Prosecutor-General, but he can delay by asking the Constitutional Court for clarification on procedural or legal points.
Opponents of Geshev’s nomination have repeatedly asked in recent weeks that the president exercises that right, although it was unclear whether the Constitutional Court’s answer would lead to starting the process from scratch and, even in such a scenario, whether there would be another candidate put forward to run against Geshev.
As on October 24, while the SJC deliberated, rival crowds in support and against Geshev’s appointment gathered outside the council’s building, which were kept apart by police.
(Ivan Geshev screengrab from Bulgarian National Television)