Bulgarian Court Strikes 6-Month Ban on No Confidence Vote

Domestic | May 17, 2011, Tuesday // 15:34|  views

In January 2011, the Bulgarian Parliament held the third vote of confidence after 1989. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian Constitutional Court, KS, revoked the possibility of the Parliamentary majority to block the opposition from asking a no confidence vote for six months.

The rule, issued Monday, strikes from the Parliamentary Code the text which banned requesting a no confidence vote for a period of half year after a successful vote of confidence.

In January, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, asked for a vote of confidence and received it with the support of Members of the Parliament from his ruling, center-right Citizens of European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party and the far-right, nationalist Ataka over the scandal surrounding leaked tapes of conversations between Customs Director, Vanyo Tanev, and other high-ranking officials.

According to the Parliamentary Code, after the cabinet has received a vote of confidence on a certain subject, this subject cannot be used as grounds for a no confidence vote in the next six months. The January confidence, however, was for the overall policy of the cabinet thus, with the Court rule, the opposition can request in the fall a no confidence vote on any subject.

KS say the no confidence vote is not just a tool to exert parliamentary control and seek political responsibility, but an opportunity to steer wide public attention in the Parliament to crucial issues in the rule and the policies of the majority.

According to the magistrates, the practice in which the opposition asks for no confidence when the cabinet enjoys the support of the majority is stable and acceptable, while the 6-month ban leads to unfounded restriction of the rights of the political minority.

"The ban opens the door for abuse of the right of the cabinet to ask a vote of confidence, which they can do every 6 months, aiming at blocking the opposition from no confidence votes. This can turn into a dictatorship of the majority and into an erosion of political pluralism, which is the base of political life," according to KS.

The January vote of confidence was the third ever in Bulgarian history after 1989.

The first vote of confidence under the Bulgarian Constitution adopted in 1991 was initiated in 1992 by the rightist Cabinet of Filip Dimitrov (currently EU Ambassador in Georgia).

After 15 months in power, Dimitrov's government of the rightist Union of Democratic Forces collapsed as a result of the vote as the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms DPS withdrew its support for it.

The second confidence vote after 1989 was in 1994 when the coalition Cabinet of Lyuben Berov (which succeeded the Dimitrov Cabinet) initiated a vote and won support for a three-month reform program.

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