Bulgarian Socialist MPs Back Liberals in Challenging Land Sale Ban

Bulgaria in EU | October 31, 2013, Thursday // 17:09|  views

On October 22, Bulgaria's Parliament controversially decided to extend the ban on sale of agricultural land to foreigners until 2020. Photo BGNES

Bulgarian Socialist lawmakers have collected seventeen signatures in support of the complaint of the liberal party Movement for Rights and Freedoms challenging before the Constitutional Court the controversial ban on land sale to foreigners.

According to the predominantly ethnic Turkish Movement, known as DPS, the act, which extends for 7 more years a transitional moratorium, is manifestly in breach of Bulgaria's Constitution and EU Accession Treaty.

In order to file the complaint with the Constitutional Court, the 36 liberal MPs, who have all signed it, had to gather at least 12 more Members of the Parliament signatures to reach the number of 48, or 1/5 of deputies in Bulgaria's Parliament.

On October 22, Bulgaria's Parliament controversially decided to extend the ban on sale of agricultural land to foreigners until 2020.

The proposal for the extension was made by ultranationalist anti-EU party Ataka, a sort of kingmaker for the Socialist-led government. Surprisingly, it was backed by both the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and the opposition center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB.

A total of 171 lawmakers voted in favor of extending the moratorium, while 38 were against and 12 abstained from voting. The biggest surprise were the Socialists, because all, except one, who took part in the debates, urged to reject Ataka's proposal, but at the end 59 of a total of 75 BSP MPs present voted in its favor.

The European Commission warned that this would breach Bulgaria's commitment to lift the moratorium, which expires at the end of 2013.

Thursday morning, BSP's parliamentary group met to discuss the DPS Constitutional Court challenge and decided they would not issue a joint decision, but would extend to each of their MPs the opportunity to sign.

Two of those who voted in favor of the moratorium are among the 17 backing DPS. One of them told the online news agency Dnevnik that he did it because he had realized his mistake.

More Socialist MPs might be joining the complaint. Their exact number will be announced Friday.

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Tags: DPS, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, BSP, Constitutional Court, Speaker of the Parliament, Mihail Mikov, Rosen Plevneliev, president, restrictions, labor market, Bulgarian Socialist Party, Plamen Oresharski, Ataka, GERB, agricultural land, sale, ban, moratorium, EC, EU, European Commission, labor market


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