Bulgaria: Movement for Rights and Freedoms expels 17 MPs from parliamentary group, then another one quits

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) has expelled 17 MPs from its parliamentary group, a move that was followed by another MP quitting the group.

The MRF is now no longer the 50th National Assembly’s second-largest group and has become its fourth-largest, out of a total of six groups. The expulsions come amid a battle within the MRF between founder and honorary president Ahmed Dogan and MRF national co-leader and parliamentary group leader Delyan Peevski.

Given that the MRF is no longer the second-largest group, it has forfeited its right under Bulgaria’s constitution to be next to get a mandate to seek to form a government. The second mandate must now go to We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria.

The 17 expelled from the parliamentary group on July 11 are those who met on July 8 with Dogan, after the party’s parliamentary group contradicted each other in their votes on July 3 on the government proposed by Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF. Those expelled include MRF national co-leader Dzevdet Chakurov.

They had complied with Dogan’s call to vote against the proposed government, while the rest fell in line with the call by Peevski to vote in favour.

On July 10, Dogan called on Peevski and a number of others to step down from their MRF posts, a call immediately rejected by Peevski.

In the initial seat distribution announced by the Central Electoral Commission after Bulgaria’s June 9 early parliamentary elections, the MRF had 47 seats.

Having earlier expelled three MPs from its parliamentary group, it now has a parliamentary group of 26.

As of July 11, the groups in the National Assembly are GERB-UDF (68 MPs), WCC-DB (39), Vuzrazhdane (38), the MRF (26), the Bulgarian Socialist Party (18) and ITN (16).

A total of 35 MPs are now sitting as “independents”. This category is made up of the now-defunct Velichie group, the MPs expelled from the MRF group and one MP expelled from the BSP group.

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