Bulgaria’s Parliament approves amendments linked to appointment of caretaker PM

Bulgaria’s Parliament approved at a special sitting on April 2 the second and final reading of amendments to laws to clear away obstacles to the appointment of certain office-bearers as caretaker Prime Minister.

As amended in 2023, Bulgaria’s constitution provides that in appointing a caretaker PM, the head of state must choose from a list – the Speaker of the National Assembly, the governor and deputy governor of central Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman and head and deputy head of the Audit Office.

However, in the case of BNB, the Ombudsman’s office and the Audit Office, existing laws barred the heads of those institutions from political roles.

Parliament, in amendments hastily approved at first reading last week, initially provided for those on the list to take unpaid leave if appointed caretaker PM.

On the morning of April 2, Parliament’s legal affairs committee approved a new version, instead providing for anyone on the list to be temporarily suspended from office to be appointed as caretaker PM, returning to their post after their spell at the head of government is over.

On March 30, President Roumen Radev handed a mandate to Audit Office head Dimitar Glavchev to propose a caretaker government, asking Glavchev to do so within a week, although the constitution sets no deadline.

On April 1, Glavchev said that he had taken unpaid leave and was in the process of approaching individuals to serve in a caretaker government.

The second reading of the amendments to the Bulgarian National Bank Act, which were tabled by GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, were approved with the votes of those two groups as well as We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, with Vuzrazhdane, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and ITN opposed.

The amendments change the rules in respect of the governor and deputy governors of the central bank, and change the transitional and final provisions to change the rules in respect of the heads and deputy heads of the Audit Office and Ombudsman’s office.

When the BNB governor is appointed caretaker PM, the incumbent appoints an acting governor from among the central bank’s deputy governors. The governing council of BNB then appoints an acting deputy governor.

Similar provisions are made for the Audit Office and Ombudsman’s office.

Criticising the amendments, Vuzrazhdane MP Petar Petrov said that they created contradictions.

Referring to the appointment of Audit Office head Glavchev as caretaker PM, Petrov said: “He will become caretaker Prime Minister, organise the elections, and then when he comes back again, he has to audit these elections, that is, he will audit himself”.

(Photo, of the Cabinet office, the Party House – currently being used for sittings of the National Assembly, and the Presidency building: parliament.bg)

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