Opposition MPs boycott Bulgarian parliament

Opposition MPs boycott Bulgarian parliament
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia November 16, 2017

MPs from Bulgaria’s two biggest opposition parties – the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), and the ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) – boycotted a parliament session on October 16, seeking the resignation of the speaker, Dimitar Glavchev of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB). 

Members of the two parties have accused Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov of eroding democratic institutions in the country. They also plan to seek a no-confidence vote against the government ahead of Bulgaria’s EU presidency which will begin in January. However, with all other parliamentary parties expected to oppose such a motion, Borissov will survive the vote without difficulty.

The spat erupted after BSP leader Kornelia Ninova claimed Borissov had accused some MPs of being involved in drug dealing. On October 15, Glavchev ordered Ninova out of the chamber after she asked for Borissov be summoned to parliament to explain the comment. 

Glavchev accused Ninova of insulting the parliament and government with her statements. Ninova refused to leave the podium, forcing Glavchev to suspend the sitting for 10 minutes and call an emergency meeting of the presiding officers.

The reason for Glavchev’s decision was the following statement by Ninova as published by Dnevnik: “I quote the prime minister, who said that we are bums without specifying which of us. Doesn’t that affect you, colleagues? Second, don’t you allow in this way verdicts to be issued in advance? […] What is this? A total violation of the principles of the rule of law, in which no one is allowed to issue verdicts before the Bulgarian court pronounces them. Third, why are you allowing a Bulgarian prime minister, whoever he is […] to destroy completely the institutions in Bulgaria?”

BSP MP Anton Kutev also was expelled for calling for the speaker’s resignation in violation of the rules of procedure.

The BSP MPs walked out and were followed by their colleagues from the DPS. 

“We are leaving until the resignation of Glavchev. We shall participate only in three plenary sessions – on the voting of the resignation, discussion and adoption of the state budget and on a no-confidence vote,” Ninova said in a statement published on the party’s website.

DPS leader Mustafa Karadayi told reporters that they have the feeling of a republic ruled by the prime minister as opposed to the parliamentary republic, which Bulgaria is according its constitution.

“Our assessment of what is happening in the past several months in the country is this: until now we were warning that the country’s democracy is in danger, and today we can say that the democracy is in crisis,” Karadayi was quoted by Dnevnik as saying.

Although the DPS is formally in opposition, unofficially it is believed to generally support Borissov’s government.

The boycott caused lack of quorum on November 16 and the start of parliament’s session was delayed several times until enough MPs had gathered, daily Dnevnik reported.