Covid-19: Bulgarian MPs accept President’s veto on State of Emergency measures bill
Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on March 23 to accept the veto imposed by President Roumen Radev on the State of Emergency measures bill.
Radev announced the veto on two provisions of the bill in a televised address on March 22, which drew a swift and scathing rebuke from Prime Minister Boiko Borissov several hours later.
The provisions vetoed by Radev – amendments to the Penal Code that would have imposed heavy fines and carried possible jail terms for spreading false information, and a clause aimed at preventing profiteering by requiring retailers to sell goods at the same prices as before the State of Emergency was declared – were struck from the bill.
The veto was backed by the senior partner in government coalition, Borissov’s Gerb, and one of its coalition partners, as well as the two largest opposition parties, the socialists and the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
Some of Gerb’s MPs abstained and the second of two ultra-nationalist parties that form its junior coalition partner opposed the veto. MPs from the smallest party in Parliament, populist Volya, did not attend the sitting, having also walked out during the debate to pass the bill at second reading on March 20.
In total, 118 MPs backed the veto, 14 were opposed and 56 abstained.
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 or accept the veto and review the vetoed clauses.
This was only the second time that Radev was successful in his use of the veto, out of 20 since taking office in January 2017. On all but one other occasion, MPs overturned the presidential veto.
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(Bulgarian Parliament photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)