Bulgaria’s far-right pro-Russian Vazrazhdane party has gathered 590,000 signatures in support of referendum on delaying the country’s entry to the eurozone – far above the minimum 400,000 required for mandatory scheduling of a vote.
Vazrazhdane launched its campaign against the euro in January. It was seen as a tool for gathering more support ahead of the April 2 snap general election. The party has indeed managed to increase the number of its supporters, becoming the third largest in parliament.
The party’s leader Kostadin Kostadinov said as quoted by Dnevnik news outlet he expects the referendum to be called in the autumn when the country should hold local elections.
“Entry to the eurozone is a trap without an exit,” Kostadinov said as quoted on the party’s website.
However, the procedure could be delayed significantly by local institutions. Parliament should convene after Orthodox Easter. Its speaker then has to send the signatures to the civil registration authority that has 45 days to check the signatures are not fake. If at least 400,000 of the signatures are real, lawmakers must call a referendum without debating the issue.
However, this step could be delayed if at least 48 lawmakers ask the constitutional court to rule on whether such a referendum is legal. There are no deadlines for the constitutional court to rule on that request.
If at least 200,000 but less than 400,000 signatures are real, lawmakers are obliged to debate the request for a referendum before deciding whether to call one.
After the court rules on the request, parliament must rule on calling the referendum and the president has one month to schedule it.
However, in order for the referendum’s result to be binding, the turnout must be at least at the level of the last general election held in the country. On April 2, the turnout was 40.6%.
According to the latest poll carried out by Alpha Research, nearly half of Bulgarians are against euro adoption, although just 10% say they have information about it.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gulub Donev's caretaker government has given up on applying to join the euro in January 2024, claiming the country has not fulfilled the requirements. Caretaker Finance Minister Rositsa Velkova said in February the country cannot meet the inflation criteria and has yet to make some essential legal amendments.
Several laws — namely those concerning changes to the Insurance Code, the Law on Measures against Money Laundering and the Commercial Law in the field of bankruptcy — were submitted to the parliament but adopted only in the first reading before the previous parliament was dismissed.
The new parliament will convene on April 12 but would need time to get to these laws.