Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Ivanov: We will restart parliamentary democracy

In an interview published on the eve of the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria coalition formally presenting its proposed government to the head of state, Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that his coalition would work to restart parliamentary democracy and to that end, would speak to all parties with the exception of Vuzrazhdane.

Ivanov’s interview with the Bulgarian-language version of Deutsche Welle was published on June 4, a day before WCC-DB is scheduled to meet President Roumen Radev with the structure and line-up of a proposed government that it has agreed with Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF.

Ivanov said that the task of the current National Assembly was to use its time to restart all the elements of the parliamentary republic.

He said constitutional reform should be the “crowning achievement”, along with reforms related to the security services and party funding, amending the Electoral Code, amending anti-corruption legislation and the statute on the regulators, to ensure that they have high integrity and professionalism.

There was a basic consensus on two aspects of amending the constitution, one being restructuring the Supreme Judicial Council to ensure the independence of the courts in accordance with European standards.

The other was to eliminate the place of the Prosecutor-General as the centre of power “by either directly abolishing this office or stripping it of its hierarchical powers, whereby the incumbent receives multiple formal and informal levers of influence and turns into a para-political player”.

Asked whether, for the sake of all these reforms, WCC-DB should have – as it did on June 2 – sat at the same table with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), given that many of the coalition’s supporters were unhappy that they were negotiating with a person like Delyan Peevski, Ivanov said “we really need to sit at the same table with the most widely represented layers of Bulgarian society through the parties represented in Parliament.

“It is not just an arithmetic problem of gathering votes without which this cannot happen. No, it’s about the sustainability of this effort of ours. Let me emphasise again: a transition is currently underway right now, for which a great effort is required.”

In an interview on June 4 with Nova Televizia, WCC-DB MP Georgi Ganev said that at the talks between GERB-UDF, WCC-DB and MRF, only constitutional reform and nothing else had been discussed.

On June 4, the MRF said that it would decide after the WCC-DB’s mandate had been presented to the head of state as to how it would vote regarding the proposed government.

“At the moment, no decision has been made on the matter,” the MRF press office said.

The statement came after on Friday, MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi said that the party would not stand in the way of the WCC-DB + GERB-UDF government deal, while on Saturday, MRF MP Hamid Hamid told Bulgarian National Television that the MRF would vote against the proposed government.

GERB-UDF parliamentary group leader Dessislava Atanassova told Bulgarian National Radio on June 4 that in spite of all of the compromises it had made, the parliamentary group would support the proposed government for the sake of stability and the development of the state.

It is not known when Radev will table in Parliament the proposed government.

Radev’s behaviour has been extremely controversial, including for telling the WCC-DB delegation when he handed them the mandate to seek to form a government that they should immediately renounce it. Radev cited an illicit recording to internal WCC party discussions as his reason for making the call.

On Facebook, Stanka Zheleva, daughter of Bulgaria’s first democratically-elected president Zhelyu Zhelev, posted a strongly-worded and lengthy criticism of the current head of state, telling him, in respect of his position such as “neutrality” for Bulgaria in Russia’s war on Ukraine: “Your position is a pure form of national betrayal. Sooner or later you will answer to the Bulgarian people, to our abandoned compatriots in Ukraine, to the court of history”.

“As a ‘peacemaker’, you openly stood against the formation of a pro-European, regular government, which has a chance to finally be formed with many compromises. After two years of an unprecedented political crisis, for which you are personally responsible. You harnessed the entire state and the security services you personally control to torpedo the formation of a stable Parliament and government with the old techniques of [communist-era] State Security: active events, sabotage, illegal recordings, provocations,” Zheleva told Radev in the open letter.

In an apparent sign that the caretaker government that Radev appointed sees its term coming to an end with the advent of an elected government, the government press office announced that caretaker Prime Minister Gulub Donev had called a special meeting at the cabinet office for June 5 at 10am, at which Donev will present a report on the current caretaker administration’s activities. The starting time for this meeting is an hour before the WCC-DB delegation headed by candidate Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov is due to meet Radev.

Whenever the vote on the proposed government is held in Parliament, WCC-DB and GERB-UDF – should all their MPs vote in favour – would be able to muster 132 votes in the 240-seat Parliament, sufficient for the government to be elected.

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