Bulgarian President Calls on MPs to Refer Six-Point Referendum to Constitutional Court

Domestic | May 14, 2016, Saturday // 10:03|  views

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev. Photo: BGNES

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev called on MPs to refer to the Constitutional Court the six questions featured in a referendum on the political system initiated by popular TV host Slavi Trifonov.

On Thursday, the parliament approved the holding of the referendum together with the forthcoming presidential elections in the autumn.

Plevneliev is concerned that some of the questions are in contradiction with the Constitution.

The president expressed readiness to refer the questions to the Constitutional Court himself, if the MPs fail to do so.

In an interview for the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) on Friday, Plevneliev expressed delight that the practice of holding referendums began in his term. At the same time, he is worried that the referendums could be used for populist means.

The head of state identified referendums as the "nuclear weapon of democracy", adding that these should be handled with care.

According to him, referendums are the medicine when representative democracy is facing problems and could restore confidence in it.

At the same time, the posing of the same question in two consecutive referendums could estrange citizens.

Plevneliev is having in mind that the question of remote electronic voting was already the subject of referendum which was held simultaneously with the local elections last autumn.

Back then, the majority of Bulgarians voted in favour of its introduction, but the number of voters was below the threshold which would have made the outcome of the referendum compulsory.

The six-point referendum is proposing the introduction of electronic voting as well as the introduction of two-round majority electoral system, compulsory voting, cutting the number of MPs in half from 240 to 120, reducing the state subsidy paid to parties and coalitions to BGN 1 per voter, direct election of the directors of the regional directorates of the interior ministry and the heads of the district police departments.

Trifonov collected 673 481 signatures in favour of holding the referendum in three months. A check by competent authorities established that 572 650 of the signatures were valid, surpassing the threshold of 400 000 valid signatures which are required for the holding of referendum initiated by citizens.

Plevneliev also commented the initiative of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB), one of the parties constituting the junior coalition partner – the Reformist Bloc (RB), which has called on pro-western parties to nominate the incumbent president as independent candidate for second presidential term.

The head of state said that his nomination should not be discussed before the end of June when he will announce his decision whether to run in the elections.

Until then, he will focus on the most important issues, namely the judicial reform and the anti-corruption legislation.

As regards the presidential veto imposed on the amendments to the Electoral Code, concerning the voting rights of Bulgarians abroad, Plevneliev said that he is giving the MPs a chance to extend the rights of Bulgarians abroad rather than restrict them.

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Tags: Constitutional Court, constitution, electoral code, veto, elections, compulsory voting, electronic voting, Slavi Trifonov, Referendum, Rosen Plevneliev, Bulgaria, DSB


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