Bulgarian MPs overrule President’s veto on Interior Ministry Act amendments

Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on July 1 to overturn President Roumen Radev’s veto on the Interior Ministry Act amendments that would task a new ministry department with protection of senior state officials.

The motion passed by 136 votes to 59, as MPs split along the usual party lines – the opposition socialists backing Radev, who was elected on the party’s ticket in 2016, while the rest of the parliamentary-represented parties dismissed the concerns raised by the president.

Under the amended Interior Ministry Act, the gendarmerie and anti-terrorism unit would be merged into a new directorate in the ministry, which would have protection detail as part of its remit.

Radev argued that the provisions he vetoed would “duplicate the protection given by the National Protection Service,” potentially leading to wasteful use of state resources without guarantees for higher security. The National Protection Service is the only major security agency under the presidency’s jurisdiction.

Radev said that the new directorate’s protection functions were not explicitly spelled out. Furthermore, the law said that the Interior Minister would approve the conditions and procedures for the directorate’s protection functions, which, Radev argued, was in breach of other legislation that split national security duties between the presidency, the government and Parliament.

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.

Since taking office in January 2017, Radev made liberal use of this power, his latest veto being the 21st, with Parliament overturning the veto in all but two cases, when the provisions in question were withdrawn. On several occasions, Radev has followed through with a Constitutional Court challenge, where he has been more successful in blocking legislation.

(Photo: parliament.bg)

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