The June 7 sitting of Bulgaria’s Parliament was suspended after MPs from pro-Russian minority party Vuzrazhdane confronted a member of the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria group, trying to prevent him speaking amid a row over the election of Delyan Peevski as a member of the constitutional affairs committee.
With 109 votes, from GERB-UDF, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and ITN, MRF MP Peevski was elected to the committee, with WCC-DB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party casting 50 votes against and Vuzrazhdane abstaining.
The vote followed talks between the governing majority and the MRF over that party supporting constitutional reform, and the June 6 vote in which Peevski and MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi voted in favour of the election of the Nikolai Denkov government.
When WCC-MP Yavor Bozhankov went to the speaker’s podium to explain his vote against Peevski, Vuzrazhdane MPs crowded around him in a bid to prevent him speaking.
Vuzrazhdane have vowed to act like this every time Bozhankov or fellow WCC-MP Manol Peykov seek to address the House. The June 7 incident was the second time in a few days that Vuzrazhdane has disrupted a sitting of Parliament through a physical confrontation.
Amid Wednesday’s confrontation, Speaker Rossen Zhelyazkov adjourned the sitting for 20 minutes.
WCC co-leader Kiril Petkov told reporters that by not taking part in the vote on Peevski, Vuzrazhdane in effect had supported his election. No one had the right to prevent an MP addressing Parliament, Petkov said.
When the sitting resumed, Zhelyazkov issued a formal reprimand to the MPs who had confronted Bozhankov, but the Vuzrazhdane MPs again surrounded the speaker’s podium and Zhelyazkov suspended the sitting for the day, saying that business could not continue.
During the adjournment, Petkov went to the Vuzrazhdane office in Parliament. Emerging, he told reporters: “You have seen that we in the WCC are not afraid of such hooligans and I am ready to be in the room with 30 of them if necessary to protect the constitutional right of each of our MPs to speak and I will continue to do so”.
Earlier, DB co-leader Hristo Ivanov, explaining why he opposed Peevski becoming a member of the constitutional committee, told the House: “After six elections, we have seen one thing – the gathering of votes in Parliament in this public atmosphere is less and less generating trust. The possibility of the constitutional committee generating trust is extremely fragile”.
Ivanov said that getting out of the crisis requires dealing with corruption and lawlessness, and for that it is necessary to renegotiate the conditions under which the government works.
He said that the instrument of this change was the constitutional committee.
The committee should not be politicised with the participation of political leaders, but should be as much as possible made up of experts, Ivanov said.
At the same time, amending the constitution requires a very broad public consensus, for which there would be negotiations with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, ITN and even Vuzrazhdane, he said.
However, according to Ivanov, this should be done so as not to create suspicions among the public about a behind-the-scenes deal.
On June 6, Peevski and Karadayi told reporters that they had voted in favour of the Denkov government so that constitutional reform could be carried out, to restructure the judiciary and limit the powers of caretaker governments. This did not mean they were behind the new government, they said.
Justice Minister Atanas Slavov said on June 6: “The only chance for this Parliament to survive politically and for the government to remain in power is to carry out constitutional reform”.
Please support The Sofia Globe’s independent journalism by becoming a subscriber to our page on Patreon: