Sceptical reactions to Bulgarian PM’s plan for Grand National Assembly, new constitution

The August 14 announcement by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov that his GERB party would propose the election of a Grand National Assembly and the drafting of a new constitution was greeted – predictably – by scepticism among anti-government protest leaders and political opponents.

Borissov made the announcement in a televised address on the 37th day of protests demanding the resignation of his government and of Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev.

Hristo Ivanov, formerly one of the justice ministers in a previous Borissov government before resigning on principle and now a leader of the summer 2020 protests, described Borissov’s proposals as a bid to gain time and to ensure that he remains in power until the end of the term of office of the current National Assembly.

Ivanov said that what Borissov was proposing was not a new constitution, but a serious amendment of the current one. The most important element that was missing was a reform of the status of the Prosecutor-General, Ivanov said.

He said that the amendments that Borissov had listed could be voted by an ordinary National Assembly without the need to elect a Grand National Assemby.

“The real way out of the situation is the clear acceptance of responsibility by Borissov and Geshev and their resignations, and going to parliamentary elections. The current Parliament is devoid of content, devoid of expertise,” Ivanov said.

One of the groups of protest organisers, the “Poison Trio” – Professor Velislav Minekov, advocate Nikolai Hadzhigenov and Arman Babikyan – said that Borissov’s move was a further attempt to gain time and was a show of fear.

They said in a statement that the “failed and discredited” Parliament, with a majority dictated by its oligarchic government, was preparing to propose a new constitution on its own.

“This will enable the mafia to create its own basic law, drafted by its National Assembly, and to be given time until January to remain in office.”

“In the so-called proposals we did not hear any readiness to remove the Prosecutor’s Office from the judiciary, nor for machine and electronic remote voting. In practice, none of the protest’s demands were granted,” they said.

Opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova said in a post on Facebook: “Borissov is not the person who can restart the system, because he is the embodiment of the same system – the longest-serving prime minister in Bulgaria and the worst-performing prime minister in the European Union. Borissov is a symbol of the disintegration of statehood and cannot be personification of its restart”.

Lawyer Petar Slavov, formerly a right-wing MP, said that the power to propose the convening of a Grand National Assembly lay with the President and the vote of half the MPs, but not with the Prime Minister.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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