Bulgaria ruling party tables draft new constitution in Parliament

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party parliamentary group tabled a draft new constitution of Bulgaria in the National Assembly on August 17, according to a statement by the party’s press centre.

The move came on the 40th consecutive day of protests demanding the resignation of Borissov’s government and of Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev, and early parliamentary elections.

Copies of the proposed constitution have been sent to leaders of all parliamentary groups and MPs who are not members of parliamentary groups, with an invitation to talks to reach a broad agreement among MPs on convening a Grand National Assembly, GERB said.

GERB proposes halving the number of members of the National Assembly to 120, cutting the term of office of the Prosecutor-General from the current seven to five years, and splitting the Supreme Judicial Council into two bodies, one for judges and one for prosecutors. The Judicial Council of Prosecutors would appoint the Prosecutor-General, who would required to report to Parliament every six months.

The draft takes away from the President the right to appoint the top three office-holders in the judiciary.

It abolishes the Grand National Assembly and transfers to the ordinary National Assembly the right to amend the constitution or vote a new one.

The timeframe for considering the proposed changes to the constitution is no earlier than two months and no later than five months after they have been tabled.

Also on August 17, GERB tabled draft amendments to the Electoral Code. These propose the introduction of machine voting in all electoral sections in Bulgaria which have more than 300 voters. Voters would be given a choice whether to vote using a voting machine or a paper ballot.

GERB also proposes the creation of a new chapter in the code, which regulates the conduct of elections to the Grand National Assembly, introducing a mixed electoral system, with 200 MPs to be elected by proportional representation, and the remaining 200 by majoritarian vote.

GERB’s tabling of the new constitution was given short shrift by the anti-government protesters at Eagle Bridge (Orlov Most) in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, Bulgarian National Radio reported. The protesters rejected the notion of those in power proposing a new constitution, and reiterated their demand for the government to resign.

One of the protest organisers, Georgi Georgiev of the Boets movement, said: “We don’t accept the mafia writing our new constitution, all we want from them is their resignation”.

Anti-government protesters have come up with a new tactic, flying blockades of the buildings of various institutions. In the morning of August 17, the target was the Justice Ministry building, which was blockaded for an hour, with protesters throwing eggs at the windows of the building as the hour ended.

Apart from Eagle Bridge, tent camps blocking intersections outside Sofia University and in Nezavisimost Square remain in place.

(Photo, of GERB parliamentary group leader Daniela Daritkova and members of the group submitting the draft constitution to Parliament’s registry office: gerb.bg)

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