Bulgaria: Parliament deposits referendum-backed electoral reform

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The first legislation that Bulgaria's ruling centre-right GERB party has proposed within the new 44th National Assembly – the introduction of a majoritarian electoral system – is likely to face opposition from the other four parties in parliament.

Following promises it made during the previous legislature and in the campaign ahead of the snap vote on March 26, GERB on Wednesday proposed changes to the electoral code that would transform the current mixed electoral system into a fully majoritarian one, in which MPs are elected in constituencies with an absolute majority in two rounds.

The proposal follows a referendum on changes to the political system held on November 6, 2016, which 2.5 million citizens - 11,000 short of the number needed to make the results of the plebiscite mandatory - supported.

“We have to be honest to Bulgaria's employer, the Bulgarian voters. We from the GERB party reckon on those 2.5 million Bulgarian citizens,” GERB’s vice-president, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said on Wednesday, quoted by Focus News Agency.

Not all parties in parliament share GERB’s enthusiasm for the proposal, however, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s coalition partner, the nationalist United Patriots.

“This will lead to the distortion of the political system and to creation of a one or two-party model, a system more representative of totalitarian societies like that of communist Bulgaria,” Iskren Vesselinov, an MP from the United Patriots told national radio.

Valeri Simeonov, one of the vice-presidents of the "Patriots" and Borissov’s deputy in the coalition, expressed a harsher view of the proposed changes last December, predicting that the changes would result in “turbo-folk singers, football players, thugs and all kinds of scum” joining the parties.

Both GERB and the Patriots, however, on Wednesday expressed a conviction that their differing opinions on majoritarian voting will not affect their coalition, as the issue was already discussed in the negotiations on forming a government.

The proposal has drawn a mixed reaction among other parties in parliament as well. The main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party has said it will back only a partially majoritarian system in which 120 of the 240 MPs are directly elected.

The ethnic-Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms has also said it opposes the current plan but has called for a broad parliamentary debate.

The only parliamentary group to back GERB is the smallest party in the National Assembly, the populist project of businessman Vesselin Mareshki, which has 12 MPs.

The changes foresee the division of the country into 240 electoral districts, each of which would elect one MP to parliament elected with an absolute majority in two rounds.

The borders of the new electoral constituencies would be determined by the President, GERB foresees.

Bulgarians residing abroad will vote either online or by electronic machine according to their last registered address in Bulgaria.

- See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/proposed-changes-to-bulgaria-s-e...

The first legislation that Bulgaria's ruling centre-right GERB party has proposed within the new 44th National Assembly – the introduction of a majoritarian electoral system – is likely to face opposition from the other four parties in parliament.

Following promises it made during the previous legislature and in the campaign ahead of the snap vote on March 26, GERB on Wednesday proposed changes to the electoral code that would transform the current mixed electoral system into a fully majoritarian one, in which MPs are elected in constituencies with an absolute majority in two rounds.

The proposal follows a referendum on changes to the political system held on November 6, 2016, which 2.5 million citizens - 11,000 short of the number needed to make the results of the plebiscite mandatory - supported.

“We have to be honest to Bulgaria's employer, the Bulgarian voters. We from the GERB party reckon on those 2.5 million Bulgarian citizens,” GERB’s vice-president, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said on Wednesday, quoted by Focus News Agency.

Not all parties in parliament share GERB’s enthusiasm for the proposal, however, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s coalition partner, the nationalist United Patriots.

“This will lead to the distortion of the political system and to creation of a one or two-party model, a system more representative of totalitarian societies like that of communist Bulgaria,” Iskren Vesselinov, an MP from the United Patriots told national radio.

Valeri Simeonov, one of the vice-presidents of the "Patriots" and Borissov’s deputy in the coalition, expressed a harsher view of the proposed changes last December, predicting that the changes would result in “turbo-folk singers, football players, thugs and all kinds of scum” joining the parties.

Both GERB and the Patriots, however, on Wednesday expressed a conviction that their differing opinions on majoritarian voting will not affect their coalition, as the issue was already discussed in the negotiations on forming a government.

The proposal has drawn a mixed reaction among other parties in parliament as well. The main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party has said it will back only a partially majoritarian system in which 120 of the 240 MPs are directly elected.

The ethnic-Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms has also said it opposes the current plan but has called for a broad parliamentary debate.

The only parliamentary group to back GERB is the smallest party in the National Assembly, the populist project of businessman Vesselin Mareshki, which has 12 MPs.

The changes foresee the division of the country into 240 electoral districts, each of which would elect one MP to parliament elected with an absolute majority in two rounds.

The borders of the new electoral constituencies would be determined by the President, GERB foresees.

Bulgarians residing abroad will vote either online or by electronic machine according to their last registered address in Bulgaria.

 

Cross-posted from: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/proposed-changes-to-bulgaria-s-e...