Bulgaria’s outgoing prosecutor-general Sotir Tsatsarov was elected on December 11 as head of the Commission for Combating Corruption and Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Property, in a Parliament vote that saw 165 MPs in favour, 30 opposed and three abstentions.
Support for Tsatsarov came from all parties in the National Assembly, although half the parliamentary group of the opposition socialists voted against or abstained. The smallest party in Parliament, populist Volya, backed both its own nominee and Tsatsarov.
The reason for the split in the socialist ranks appeared to be focused not so much Tsatsarov’s nomination, but rather the appointment procedure. Party leader Kornelia Ninova and several other MPs spoke during the debate preceding the vote against the current legal provisions, arguing that the head of the anti-corruption body should be appointed by the presidency, not Parliament.
Tsatsarov’s term as prosecutor-general ends in January 2020, but he said after the vote that he intended to resign “later today”. Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council could vote to accept his resignation on December 12, during its regular weekly sitting.
Should Tsatsarov’s resignation be accepted, the formal decision to relieve him of his duties as prosecutor-general would have to be done by presidential decree.
If all those steps are done swiftly, it would clear the way for Tsatsarov’s current deputy, Ivan Geshev, to succeed him as prosecutor-general before the end of the year, although it was not immediately clear if that would require an amended presidential decree, given that the current decree appointing him as prosecutor-general envisions him taking office in January.
Tsatsarov will serve the remainder of the term of Plamen Georgiev, who resigned in July in the wake of a real estate row, amid an investigation into the legality of a recreational feature on the terrace of the building where he lives. The term expires in 2024.