Category Archives: Bulgaria


Bulgaria – Government defeats no-confidence motion (again)

Another month, another no-confidence motion in Bulgaria (or so it seems). This time, the opposition Socialist Party lodged a no-confidence motion, primarily against the Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, and the handling of Bulgaria’s accession (or non-accession) to the Schengen Agreement.

According to Novinite, the no-confidence motion was supported by 91 deputies (the Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), whereas it was opposed by 143 deputies, notably from the ruling GERB party and the Law and Justice Party (RZS) party. The Novinite report also notes that 12 deputies have left various parties and joined an independent group. This group supports GERB.

A no-confidence motion needs 121 votes.

Bulgaria – Government defeats no-confidence motion

The political situation is heating up in Bulgaria ahead of the presidential election, which will be held on 23 October 2011.

On 16 June, the Sofia News Agency reports, the government defeated a no-confidence motion. The motion was proposed by the opposition Socialist party (or at least the parliamentary opposition as the president is a Socialist and Bulgaria is currently experiencing a period of cohabitation). The motion was motivated by the government’s health policy.

Anyway, the motion was easily defeated. The government (the ruling GERB party) won 124 votes and the opposition (Socialists and Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS) won 70 votes.

Bulgaria – Court rules on no-confidence motions

Given that the collective responsibility of the government to the legislature is central to the definition of semi-presidentialism, the rules and procedures for holding governments accountable are of fundamental interest. Obviously, these rules vary from one place to another. In some cases, legislatures can table no-confidence motions at any point. In other cases, no-confidence motions are limited to perhaps one per year. In other cases still, a super-majority is required for a motion to be successful. (See previous post).

In Bulgaria, the official News Agency is reporting a Supreme Court ruling on no-confidence motions. The ruling rests on the distinction between a confidence motion (one tabled by the government itself) and a no-confidence motion (one tabled by the opposition against the government).

Apparently, parliament’s internal regulations stated that if a government had tabled a motion of confidence in itself on a particular subject, then a motion of no-confidence could not be tabled for six months on the same subject. The Court has struck down this provision.

In January this year, the government tabled a general motion of confidence in itself. Therefore, following the Court’s ruling, the opposition can now table a motion of no-confidence within six months on a particular subject. This means that the parliamentary opposition is somewhat empowered.

The report also states that there have been only three motions of confidence since the passage of the constitution in 1991. The first was in 1992 and led to the collapse of the Dimitrov government when the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) withdrew its support. The second was in 1994 when the Berov government successfully tabled a confidence vote. The third was earlier this year as reported in a previous post.

Bulgaria – Government survives two confidence motions in one day

Last week, the Bulgarian government tabled a confidence motion in itself. The vote was held on Thursday, or rather the votes were held then.

In the first vote, the Bulgarian Press Agency reports that the government received the support of 141 deputies, 72 opposed the government and 13 abstained. However, there were claims of irregularities during the vote. Therefore, the government held it again. This time, they received the support of 140 deputies, 60 opposed the government and 14 abstained.

The GERB government is a single-party minority government with 117 deputies in the 240-seat chamber. However, it has consistently received the support of both the Ataka party and the Blue coalition, which have 20 and 14 deputies respectively.

Bulgaria – President vetoes bill

Bulgaria is experiencing a period of cohabitation. This has already generated various problems between President Georgi Parvanov and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Now, the Sofia News Agency is reporting that President Parvanov has vetoed amendments to the country’s electoral code. The bill will have to be debated once again in parliament.

Bulgaria – President forms a new movement

In Bulgaria President Georgi Parvanov has founded a new political movement. Novinite reports that it is called Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (or ABV, the first three letters of the Bulgarian alphabet). Parvenov is a former member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and this is the affiliation that is given to him by

The creation of the new movement is controversial for two reasons. Firstly, Art. 95 (2) of the Bulgarian constitution states: “The President and the Vice President shall not serve as Members of the National Assembly or engage in any other state, public or economic activity, nor shall they participate in the leadership of any political party”. So, the president must, officially, be non-partisan. Secondly, Parvenov was a member of the BSP and even though BSP representatives were present at the launch of the movement, there is a clear sense in which the ABV will transform into a political party once Parvenov’s term ends in 2012. Therefore, it will be a rival to the BSP.

Obviously, defining the ABV as a movement and not a political party is designed to circumvent the constitutional issue. However, it has already provoked the nationalist Ataka party to call for the president to be impeached. The ruing GERB party will consider the issue later this week. A previous impeachment vote failed earlier this year.

Bulgaria – President and PM clash again

In 2006 Oleh Protsyk published a really nice article in Political Studies (vol. 54, pp. 219–244) entitled ‘Intra-Executive Competition between President and Prime Minister: Patterns of Institutional Conflict and Cooperation under Semi-Presidentialism’. An innovative part of the paper was the attempt to measure conflict within semi-presidential executives.

I was reminded of the article when I looked at the Sofia News Agency page and read the reports of the latest clash between the president and the prime minister. Recall that there is currently a period of cohabitation in Bulgaria and only last month a government-sponsored bill to impeach the president narrowly failed.

Now, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has accused President Georgi Parvanov of being involved in stopping an investigation by the secret services and the interior ministry into the leader of the ethnic Turkish DPS party, Ahmed Dogan. President Parvanov has responded by defending himself against the accusation, accusing the prime minister of spending too much time attacking him and not enough time sorting out the country’s economic issues.

If Oleh ever wishes to update his article, then he would have no difficulty observing intra-executive conflict in Bulgaria and in real time!

Bulgaria – Bill to impeach president fails

This is not an April Fool!

In Bulgaria, the bill to impeach the president has failed. Last week a motion to debate the impeachment bill was supported by 162 votes, just one more than the two-thirds majority required for the impeachment bill to be passed.

Yesterday, the impeachment bill proper was debated in the parliament. This time, the bill received just 155 votes. Given it failed to reach the two-thirds majority, the impeachment process ends. Had it passed, then the Constitutional Council would have decided the president’s fate.

The different between the two votes lies with the deputies from the right-wing RZS (Order, Law, Justice) party. They have eight deputies and they voted in favour of the motion to debate the impeachment, but then voted against the impeachment bill itself.

The bill was also opposed by the president’s socialist party colleagues and by the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms party. It was supported by the ruling GERB party, as well as by its allies in parliament, the Blue Coalition and the Ataka party.

There is a report on the debate by the Sofia News Agency.

Bulgaria – Ruling party threatens to impeach president

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.

Bulgaria – Government gains a seat

In Bulgaria the incumbent government, a single-party minority government led by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov from the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), has gained a parliamentary seat without an extra vote being cast.

Balkans Insight reports that Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court has revised the result of last year’s parliamentary election following a recount of the votes cast at 23 polling stations in Turkey. According to the report, the Court ruled that 18,358 votes should be declared null and void. The vast majority of these votes – 18,140 – were initially credited to the ethnic Turkish party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). However, with these votes being voided, the DPS loses a seat and the GERB gains one.

This change is potentially significant because GERB enjoys only a minority of parliamentary seats, though it has been supported fairly consistently by other forces in parliament since the July election. GERB now has 117 seats, whereas 121 is required for an absolute majority.

The so-called Blue Coalition, which supports the government in parliament, is also going to lose a seat because one of its deputies is being replaced by an independent.