For however long its lifespan, Bulgaria’s new Parliament heads for first sitting

The Central Election Commission (CEC) met on April 11 its deadline for declaring the names of those deemed elected as members of Bulgaria’s 45th National Assembly, following the parliamentary elections a week earlier.

Fourteen of the initial 240 names notified the CEC that they did not want to take up their seats, among them GERB party leader and current Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.

Word is now awaited from head of state President Roumen Radev, who has up to a month after the elections to convene the first sitting of the National Assembly. Should Radev not do so, Parliament may be convened by at least a fifth of its members.

Parliament must hold its first sitting no later than May 4. However, in 2021, the Orthodox Easter Friday is on April 30. May 1, Labour Day, falling on a Saturday adds a special public holiday on Tuesday May 4, the day after the Orthodox Easter Monday holiday.

There is no legal bar to Parliament sitting on a public holiday, but the prospect of it doing so is improbable. According to Bulgarian National Television, Radev is expected to convene the first sitting next week.

Pending the election of a Speaker, practice in Bulgaria is for the first sitting of a new National Assembly to be opened by its oldest member, which in the case of the 45th is Mika Zaikova, elected on the ticket of Slavi Trifonov’s party and who is 79.

Borissov, who has no support from any other parliamentary group for a GERB-nominated government being elected into office, has called on Trifonov to come up with a list of names for nominations to the Cabinet, deputy ministers, a Speaker, heads of parliamentary committees and district governors.

Trifonov, said by his party to have tested positive for Covid-19, has made no public statements barring two posts on Facebook thanking those who voted for the cable television presenter’s political party.

With Trifonov’s party having won 51 seats and some other parties having first-time MPs, the 45th National Assembly will have a significant infusion of those new to the plenary hall.

It also will feature some who worked for Bulgaria’s communist-era secret service, State Security. Among the ranks of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Velizar Enchev and Roumen Gechev, and among the Movement for Rights and Freedoms MPs, Ramadan Atalay and Roumen Riza.

The leaders of the two largest parliamentary groups, GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, have said that they will provide the votes for a government to be voted into office.

These statements have been made before any public announcement of negotiations about the formation of a possible government, nor any names being officially floated.

Should the process (as outlined in The Sofia Globe’s election factfile) of mandate-handing and attempts at getting a government voted into office fail, Radev must dissolve the 45th National Assembly and decree a date for new elections.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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