Bulgarian Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee to Review Election System Bill

Domestic | January 10, 2017, Tuesday // 09:26|  views

File photo, BGNES

The Legal Affairs Committee with Bulgaria's Parliament will debate and vote on Tuesday on a bill aimed at a switch to a first-past-the-post electoral system.

The move follows calls from political parties, activist groups, and the national ombudsman to take into consideration a recent referendum.

In November, voters overwhelmingly said "yes" to the introduction of a majority system, ditching the one of proportional representation that is currently in use.

At 13:00 local time (EET), lawmakers will have a say on the bill tabled by GERB, Bulgaria's biggest party led by outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

If the bill is cleared by the committee and goes to Parliament's floor, the text may be adopted by January 27 if a fast-track procedure is used, the committee head Danail Kirilov, also a GERB MP, said Monday. It was his party's parliamentary faction that drafted the bill, arguing it had been working on it for months.

In such event, President-elect Rumen Radev is asked to consider not dissolving Parliament immediately after assuming the office on January 22.

GERB have already urged Radev to postpone the procedure until at least the end of the month to allow more time for the electoral system bill to be adopted.

The legislature is to be dissolved as a prerequisite for appointing an interim government and calling an early election, more than two months after Borisov stepped down as Prime Minister. Incumbent head of state Rosen Plevneliev cannot take the step less than three months before his term expires.

The three-question referendum, on the other hand, fell short of the voter turnout that would have made results binding, with around 13 000 to reach the threshold, which was the activity registered in the last parliamentary election.

But the turnout was enough to obligate Parliament to debate and vote.

Formally, there are no definitive results on which Parliament could base its decision to trigger a debate and vote as the electoral watchdog's figures, suggesting insufficient turnout, are being appealed with the Supreme Administrative Court.

Parliament is nevertheless acting amid increasing calls to heed the will of voters, with the next legislature not being obliged by the law to consider the referendum results.

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Tags: Referendum, majority system, first-past-the-post, Danail Kirilov, GERB


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