Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on March 26 to suspend regular sittings and convene only for legislation related to the State of Emergency or other urgent legislative amendments.
Questions to Cabinet ministers will be solely in written form.
The vote was 115 in favour and 65 against, with the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party the only group to oppose the suspension of sitting.
The move was proposed by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tsveta Karayancheva, a senior member of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party.
“Covid-19 does not choose by party, social, religious or ethnic origin. We cannot want the whole country to be under quarantine, which is increasingly tight, while we are ostensibly breaking all the rules for social distance,” Karayancheva said.
“We have passed the most important laws to help the country overcome the crisis as easily as possible. Now is the time also to obey these laws, now is the time to get rid of the illusions and first of all the illusion of exclusivity. And we cannot become spreaders of this contagion,” she said.
Parliament could later on catch up with its work during what would otherwise be holidays, “but human life and human health cannot catch up,” Karayancheva said.
BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, opposing the vote, said that it amounted to suspending the parliamentary republic and the constitution. “The dictatorship comes into force tomorrow,” she said.
The rules of Bulgaria’s Parliament say that a sitting may be called by the Speaker, on the initiative of a fifth of the 240 members of the National Assembly – a minimum of 48 MPs, or at the request of the President or the Cabinet.