Bulgarian PM Borissov to propose Grand National Assembly, new constitution

In a video address on August 14, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that his GERB party would propose to Parliament to call elections for a Grand National Assembly which would enact several changes to the Constitution.

Borissov said that when Parliament votes to hold elections for Grand National Assembly, he would resign as Prime Minister.

Article 157 of Bulgaria’s constitution provides for a Grand National Assembly to consist of 400 members elected according to current electoral law. While the National Assembly may approved changes to a current constitution, only a Grand National Assembly may approve a wholly new one.

He listed the proposed changes to Bulgaria’s constitution as including halving the number of members of an ordinary National Assembly from 240 to 120.

Other changes proposed by Borissov include:

Cutting the number of members of a Grand National Assembly from 400 to 280.

Abolishing the Supreme Judicial Council and establishing a Judicial Council of Judges and a Judicial Council of Prosecutors. The two councils would deal separately with, respectively, judges, and with prosecutors and investigators.

Seven of the members of the Judicial Council of Judges would be elected by judges and six by the National Assembly, the latter requiring a two-thirds majority vote, and would have the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the President of the Supreme Administrative Court as members.

The powers of the Minister of Justice would be limited to proposing a draft budget for the relevant bodies of the judiciary and to managing the judiciary’s real estate.

Instead of one Inspectorate for the judiciary, there would be two, one for judges and one for prosecutors. Each of the two Inspectorates would consist of a Chief Inspector and five inspectors.

There will be an institute of individual constitutional complaints.

The Prosecutor-General would be heard by the National Assembly every six month, with the Prosecutor-General’s report subject to a vote by Parliament. This report would cover law enforcement by the prosecution and investigative bodies.

The National Assembly may hear the Prosecutor-General on issues related to specific criminal proceedings, with the permission of the supervising prosecutor.

The term of office of the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, President of the Supreme Administrative Court and of the Prosecutor-General would be reduced to five years.

Borissov said that these proposals would increase the role of and confidence in political representation, strengthen the independence of the judiciary, make prosecutors and judges self-governing communities “and perhaps most importantly, strengthen control of the activities of the Prosecutor-General”.

Borissov’s address came on the 37th day of protests demanding the resignation of his government and of Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev.

Borissov had posted on Facebook several days ago that “it was time for decisions” and he said earlier this week that he would announce steps that would restore calm.

He praised the achievements of his government in economic and other areas but said that “this turned out to be insufficient”.

Borissov portrayed the protests as having begun among young people but having been infiltrated by “the oligarchy and the underworld”.

He said that the opposition in Parliament was not recognised as an alternative because it was weak, helpless and incapable of producing legislative solutions that were a corrective to governance.

President Roumen Radev (Borissov did not mention his name) had abandoned his primary role as unifier of the nation. “In his desire to be a political leader, he deliberately fuelled tensions among the institutions, to the point of pitting Bulgarian citizens against Bulgarian citizens. He divided society, waved his fist, and ignited the destructive power of opposition,” Borissov said.

“It is time not only to change the political system, but to restart the state. The need to restart the political model can no longer be postponed,” he said.

Borissov said that the current constitution had been adopted in another historical period “and time has shown that without changing the basic law we cannot meet the challenges”.

The Grand National Assembly was a unique opportunity “not only to restart our democracy, but also for this to happen with a system of maximum political representation”. GERB would propose that it of its 400 members, 200 would be elected by proportional representation and the other 200 by a majoritarian electoral system.

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