Rejection of Referendum Questions 'Blow to Half Million Citizens' - Bulgarian President

Domestic | August 1, 2015, Saturday // 07:52|  views

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev. Photo by BGNES

Direct democracy will happen in Bulgaria sooner or later, President Rosen Plevneliev said in a Friday interview.

In an interview with the Bulgarian National Television he made extensive comments on his own proposal on a referendum concerning election rules, part of which was rejected by lawmakers earlier this week. MPs voted down two of the three questions he had put forward - the ones on the introduction of majority elements in elections and compulsory voting - thus leaving only a question on whether electroning voting should be implemented.

The national poll will be most likely held with local elections on October 25, though no official date has yet been set.

Plevneliev said the vote in Parliament had been a blow to some 570 000 Bulgarians who backed the three referendum questions.

He was referring to a petition which was launched by an initiative committee after he first proposed the referendum last year, but which failed to trigger the referendum after it turned out that some of the signatures were void. Half a million signatures are required to make call a referendum.

Parliament then discussed and voted the referendum proposal, but turned it down.

At the same time the President made clear he welcomed the forthcoming poll on remote electroning voting. He opined Bulgaria needed the votes of some 1.5 million of its citizens who lived abroad and of whom only a tiny minority would normally cast a ballot.

But he insisted the other two questions should have also passed.

"When trust of citizens in the institutions is at a record low, we should ask them, and a referendum is needed for this. When citizens are complaining... and politicians are accusing each other of vote-bying and manipulation, a solution is needed. One solution is compulsory voting."

He also warned that electoral legislation in Bulgaria tended to go through amendments only when the idea was to give the ruling parties some advantage in elections, which he described as "unsustainable".

Plevneliev also commented on several other issues, inluding the election of socialist lawmaker Maya Manolova as Bulgaria's next National Ombudsman, a move he had rebuked.

He explained his assessment was in no way personal, but reflected his attitude to the election procedure which had been used (a secret vote in Parliament). However, he praised Konstantin Penchev, the incumbent, as a "successful" Ombudsman.

Short after Manolova's election on Thursday the Bulgarian Presidency quoted him on Twitter as saying that the development had been an example of how detrimental the secret vote is to the functioning of state institutions.

"I had hoped that the National Assembly whould choose a clearly non-partisan personality with an impeccable authority in society," the comment went further, in an apparent reference to Penchev, who had been the only other contender.

Despite his comments on Friday Plevneliev voiced his hope that the next President would be able to give a good evaluation of the work of the next Ombudsman.


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Tags: Rosen Plevneliev, Referendum, Plevneliev, voting rules, compulsory voting, electronic voting, Maya Manolova, Konstantin Penchev


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