Bulgarian MPs overrule President’s veto on Judiciary Act amendments

Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on September 30 to overturn President Roumen Radev’s veto on a bill of amendments to the Judiciary Act, which he imposed citing concerns about the provision that gave promotions to former members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

The motion passed by 149 MPs in favour to 66 opposed, all from the socialist opposition, and no abstentions.

In his veto motives, Radev said that this was the second time this year that MPs amended the relevant provision of the Judiciary Act, both times keeping the possibility for a former member of the SJC to be promoted after their terms ends.

This provision breached both the independence of the judiciary, as well as the constitutional principle of equality under law – since former members of the SJC are promoted without winning a competition to fill the vacancy, as other magistrates are required to, Radev argued.

The constitutionality of the practice has also been challenged earlier this year by the Supreme Court of Cassation, with the Constitutional Court due to sit in judgment of the case on October 15.

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. This was his 23rd vetoed bill, with Parliament overturning the veto in all but two cases, when the provisions in question were withdrawn.

MPs will also face another vetoed piece of legislation, the amendments to the Electoral Code, which Radev blocked on Monday, with a vote likely next week.

(Photo: parliament.bg)

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