In Bulgaria, the current period of cohabitation seems to be leading to ever-worsening relations between the president and the government. Now, it appears as if the government is about to embark upon an impeachment process.
It started on a TV talk show. The GERB Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, was asked whether the socialist president, Georgi Parvano, was a “young billionaire”. He replied that president was not young. A few days later the president met with the Finance Minister in the presidential palace. The president then published the transcript of the meeting. The Finance Minister was unaware that the president was recording the conversation.
As Southeast European Times reports, the problem is that Art. 32 (2) of the Constitution states: “No one shall be followed, photographed, filmed, recorded or subjected to any other similar activity without his knowledge or despite his express disapproval, except when such actions are permitted by law.” Therefore, there is a prima facie case that the president has broken the law.
Impeachment is governed by Art. 103, which states:
“(2) An impeachment shall require a motion from no fewer than one quarter of all Members of the National Assembly and shall stand if supported by more than two- thirds of the Members.
(3) An impeachment against the President or Vice President shall be tried by the Constitutional Court within a month following the lodging of the impeachment. Should the Constitutional Court convict the President or Vice President of high treason, or of a violation of the Constitution, the President’s or Vice President’s prerogatives shall be suspended.”
What this means is that 161 members of parliament have to vote for the impeachment. There are 117 GERB deputies and Southeast European Times calculates that 35 allies will support the motion. However, the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms party has said that it will not support the motion. Therefore, it is likely to fail.
A further sign that relations between the government and the president have deteriorated is the president’s threat to veto a government bill that would allow GMO foods to be cultivated more easily. The president has stated that he will veto the bill unless the government make changes to it. He also said that if parliament decided to override his veto, then he would call a referendum.
Rather like the Icelandic case, Bulgaria’s president is sometimes deemed too weak for Bulgaria to be classed as semi-presidential. However, as in Iceland, these events show that sooner or later events will lead to presidents intervening in political life. This is the basic reason why we need to class countries as semi-presidential on the basis of their constitution rather than presidential behaviour. If we class them in terms of their behaviour, then countries can jump in and out of semi-presidentialism at any time depending on whether a president intervenes or not. This is absurd and, obviously, is no way to classify countries reliably.