In a vote on January 19, Bulgaria’s Parliament elected Dessislava Atanassova, until recently the leader of the parliamentary group of Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF, and Borislav Belazelkov, a former Supreme Court of Cassation judge, to the Constitutional Court.
The vote on Atanassova, nominated by GERB-UDF, was 159 in favour and 65 against.
The vote on Belazelkov, nominated by We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, was 154 in favour and 63 against.
The two will take up seats in the Constitutional Court that were vacated two years ago when the terms of office of previous judges elected by Parliament expired.
The nominee of Vuzrazhdane, MP Tsveta Rangelova, was defeated with 105 votes against and 42 in favour.
In debate, the candidacies of Atanassova and Rangelova were criticised as overtly political given their thin qualifications to sit on the Constitutional Court’s bench.
Amendments tabled by Vuzrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov to say that the two new judges would have terms of seven years instead of nine were rejected.
Speaking after the vote, Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova said that the Parliament had violated the constitution, given that the Constitutional Court recently said that the judges would serve only the remainder of a nine-year term, not a full nine-year term. Ninova said that her group would query the vote in the Constitutional Court.
The January 19 vote was not initially on the Order Paper of the sitting but was added as a new first item on Friday morning.
The three candidates were given a hearing by Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee on January 18.
All three said that they would be independent judges.
Atanassova told the committee that she would not recuse herself from the cases lodged in the court by President Roumen Radev, Vuzrazhane and ITN against the 2023 amendments to the constitution.
Atanassova was leader of the GERB-UDF parliamentary group at the time that the amendments, tabled by GERB-UDF and WCC-DB, was approved, and she spoke and voted in favour of them.
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