Politics of Bulgaria
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Politics of Bulgaria take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Since 1989, after over fifty years of single party system, Bulgaria has an unstable party system, dominated by the post-communist Bulgarian Socialist Party, its first opposition - the Union of Democratic Forces and several personalistic parties, which emerge for a short period of time in the past decade, governing of which are Simeon II's NDSV party and Boyko Borisov's GERB party. The US Library of Congress Federal Research Division reported it in 2006 as having generally good freedom of speech and human rights records, while Freedom House listed it as "free" in 2011, giving it scores of 2 for political rights and 2 for civil liberties.
Developments since 1990
After the fall of the communism in 1989, the former communist party was restructured and succeeded by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which won the first post-communist elections for the Constitutional Assembly in 1990 with a small majority. Meanwhile, Zhelyu Zhelev, a communist-era dissident from the new democratic party - Union of Democratic Forces (abbreviated in Bulgarian as SDS), was elected President by the Assembly in 1990. In the first years after the change of regime, Bulgarian politics had to (re)establish the foundations of a democratic society in the country after nearly fifty years of de facto totalitarian communism. The so called period of transition (from a Soviet socialist model to an economic structure focused on development through economic growth) began in the early 1990s. The politics of Bulgaria was aimed at joining the European Union and the NATO fold, as the alliances were recognised to have political agendas similar to the goals of the new Bulgarian democracy.
In contemporary Bulgaria, the government and its leader - the Prime Minister, have more political influence and significance than the President. Thus, the parliamentary elections set the short-term social and political environment in the country since the cabinet (chosen by the Prime Minister and approved by the parliament) decides how the country is governed while the President can only make suggestions and impose vetoes.
The country's first post-communist parliamentary elections, in November 1991, decided the victory with a small majority of the pro-reform Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) party, and allowed it to create a cabinet alone, having won 110 out of the 240 parliamentary. Yet, their government collapsed in late 1992, and was succeeded by a technocratic team put forward by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which served until 1994 when the President dissolved the government and appointed a provisional one to serve until the pre-term elections, appointed for December in the same year. BSP won convincingly the pre-term elections in December 1994 with a majority of 125 seats out of the 240. Due to the severe economic crisis in Bulgaria during their government, BSP's cabinet also collapsed and in 1996 a caretaker cabinet was appointed by the President again to serve until the new pre-term parliamentary elections in April 1997. At the peak of the economic crisis, the elections resulted in a landslide victory for the pro-reform SDS, giving to the party the majority of 163 seats in parliament. This proved to be the first post-communist government that did not collapse and served its full 4-year term until 2001. In 2001, the former monarch of Bulgaria Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha returned to power, this time as Prime Minister with his National Movement Simeon II (in Bulgarian abbreviated: NDSV). He won the majority of 120 seats but entered a coalition with the liberal party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (in Bulgarian abbreviated: DPS) which is widely perceived as a party of the ethnic Turks minority in Bulgaria. In opposition were the two previously governing parties - the Socialist Party BSP) and the Democratic Forces (SDS). In the four years in opposition the Union of Democratic Forces broke up in several smaller right-wing parties while contiuing to exist. The ruling party NDSV itself ruptured into a pro-right core and a pro-liberal fringe. In the aftermath, BSP won the parliamentary elections in 2005 with 82 out of the 240 seats, but as it didn't get the majority of the seats, a coalition government was formed by the three biggest parties - BSP, NDSV and DPS. The elections also put in parliament some of the right-wing parties, as well as the extreme-right nationalist coalition led by the party Ataka as an answer to the former coalition government of NDSV with DPS. In the parliamentary elections of 2009 the centre-right party of the mayor of the capital Sofia won the majority of the vote. The party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (abbreviated in Bulgarian as GERB) governed the country with DPS, BSP, the coalition of right-wing parties, Ataka and the conservative party called Order, Law and Justice (abbreviated in Bulgarian as RZS) in opposition. The austerity measures required in the stagnation of the Global Financial Crisis led to massive protests and the resignation of the cabinet in early 2013 months before the end of GERB's term. In the early elections the former leading party GERB received highest vote from the people, but as they received only 97 of the 240 seats and refused to make a coalition with the other three parties that entered the parliament or to make a minority cabinet, they passed the mandate to the next party BSP. The socialist party chose the non-party former Minister of Finance Plamen Oresharski to form a cabinet, that was eventually supported by 121 members of parliament (120 from BSP and DPS, plus the leader of Ataka voted for, while the other 119 members of parliament from were argued to be against).
In 1992 Zhelev won Bulgaria's first presidential elections to serve as President until 1997. The second President was another member of the Union of Demicratic Forces - Petar Stoyanov, who served until 2002, when the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party - Georgi Parvanov began to replace him, he won two mandates and served until 2012, when Rosen Plevneliev of the right-oriented GERB was elected to serve as President until January, 2017.
Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007. On the parliamentary elections in 2009, the newly established personalistic party of Boyko Borisov - Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) won the elections, securing 117 seats out of 240, which enabled it to form a cabinet alone. Once the governing party - the National Movement Simeon II have not amassed enough votes to enter the parliament. In the last seven elections held since 1989, no government has been re-elected—each has had to implement stringent economic and social reforms, since the fall of communism. The next elections will be held in 2013.
The present government of Bulgaria resigned on 20 February 2013.
Main office holders
|Acting Prime Minister||Marin Raykov||No party, formerly Citizens for European Development||13 March 2013|
|Acting Deputy Prime Minister (1)||Ekaterina Zaharieva||No party||13 March 2013|
|Acting Deputy Prime Minister (2)||Deyana Kostadinova||No party, formerly Citizens for European Development||13 March 2013|
|Acting Deputy Prime Minister (3)||Iliyana Tsanova||No party||13 March 2013|
|President||Rosen Plevneliev||No party, foremrly Citizens for European Development||22 January 2012|
|Vice President||Margarita Popova||No party, formerly Citizens for European Development||22 January 2012|
|Chairperson of the National Assembly||in exile|
The president of Bulgaria is directly elected for a 5-year term with the right to one re-election. The president serves as the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. The President's main duties are to schedule elections and referendums, represent Bulgaria abroad, conclude international treaties, and head the Consultative Council for National Security. The President may return legislation to the National Assembly for further debate—a kind of veto—but the legislation can be passed again by an absolute majority vote.
The Council of Ministers is the principal organ of the executive branch. It is usually formed by the majority party in Parliament, if one exists, or by the largest party in Parliament along with coalition partners. Chaired by the Prime Minister, it is responsible for carrying out state policy, managing the state budget, and maintaining law and order. The Council must resign if the National Assembly passes a vote of no confidence in the Council or the Prime Minister or rejects a vote of confidence. The current government is made of the centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian unicameral parliament, the National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie, consists of 240 deputies who are elected for 4-year-terms by popular vote. The votes are for party or coalition lists of candidates for each of the 28 administrative divisions. A party or coalition must garner a minimum of 4% of the vote in order to enter parliament. Parliament is responsible for enactment of laws, approval of the budget, scheduling of presidential elections, selection and dismissal of the prime minister and other ministers, declaration of war, deployment of troops outside of Bulgaria, and ratification of international treaties and agreements.
|Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria||1,678,583||39.7||new||117||new|
|Coalition for Bulgaria||748,114||17.7||−13.3||40||−42|
|Movement for Rights and Freedoms||592,381||14.0||+1.2||38||+3|
|Order, Law and Justice||174,570||4.1||new||10||new|
|National Movement for Stability and Progress||127,470||3.0||−16.9||—||−53|
|For the Homeland||11,524||0.3||—||—||—|
|Bulgarian Left Coalition||8,762||0.2||—||—||—|
|Union of the Patriotic Forces||6,426||0.2||—||—||—|
|Bulgarian New Democracy||3,813||0.1||—||—||—|
|The Other Bulgaria||3,455||0.1||—||—||—|
|Party of the Liberal Alternative and Peace||2,828||0.1||—||—||—|
|Union of the Bulgarian Patriots||2,175||0.1||—||—||—|
|National Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland||1,874||0.0||—||—||—|
|Total valid votes||4,226,194||100.00||—||240||—|
|Votes cast (turnout: 60.20%)||4,323,581||100.00||—||—||—|
|Source: Bulgarian Parliament Electoral Commission of Bulgaria|
|Candidate||Party||First round||Second round|
|Rosen Plevneliev||Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria||1,349,380||40.11||1,698,136||52.58|
|Ivaylo Kalfin||Bulgarian Socialist Party||974,300||28.96||1,531,193||47.42|
|Meglena Kuneva||Initiative committee||470,808||14.00|
|Stefan Solakov||National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria||84,205||2.50|
|Rumen Hristov||Union of Democratic Forces||65,761||1.95|
|Atanas Semov||Order, Law and Justice||61,797||1.84|
|Svetoslav Vitkov||Initiative committee||54,125||1.61|
|Sali Ibrayim||National Movement Unity||41,837||1.24|
|Krasimir Karakachanov||IMRO – Bulgarian National Movement||33,236||0.99|
|Aleksey Petrov||Initiative committee||31,613||0.94|
|Maria Kapon||United People's Party||30,665||0.91|
|Nikolay Nenchev||Bulgarian Agrarian National Union||9,827||0.29|
|Pavel Chernev||Party for the People of the Nation||8,081||0.24|
|Ventsislav Yosifov||Initiative committee||7,021||0.21|
|Dimitar Kutsarov||Initiative committee||6,989||0.21|
|Andrey Chorbanov||Bulgarian Democratic Unity||6,340||0.19|
|Nikolay Vasilev||Initiative committee||5,633||0.17|
|Total valid votes||3,364,084||100||3,229,329||100|
|Source: Electoral Commission of Bulgaria|
The Bulgarian judicial system consists of regional, district and appeal courts, as well as a Supreme Court of Cassation. In addition, there is a Supreme Administrative Court and a system of military courts. The Presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court as well as the Prosecutor General are elected by a qualified majority of two-thirds from all the members of the Supreme Judicial Council and are appointed by the President of the Republic. The Supreme Judicial Council is in charge of the self-administration and organisation of the Judiciary.
A qualified majority of two-thirds of the membership of the Supreme Judicial Council elects the Presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and of the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as the Prosecutor General, from among its members; the President of the Republic then appoints those elected.
The Supreme Judicial Council has charge of the self-administration and organization of the Judiciary.
The Constitutional Court of Bulgaria supervises the review of the constitutionality of laws and statutes brought before it, as well as the compliance of these laws with international treaties that the Government has signed. Parliament elects the 12 members of the Constitutional Court by a two-thirds majority. The members serve for a nine-year term.
The territory of the Republic of Bulgaria is divided into provinces and municipalities. In all Bulgaria has 28 provinces, each headed by a provincial governor appointed by the government. In addition, there are 263 municipalities.
Political pressure groups and leaders:
- Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria or CITUB
- Confederation of Labour Podkrepa
- numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various agendas
- Bulgaria Library of Congress Country Study, Government and politics - overview, p. 16
- Library of Congress – Federal Research Division (October 2006). "Country Profile: Bulgaria" (PDF). Library of Congress. pp. 18, 23. Retrieved 4 September 2009. "Mass Media: In 2006 Bulgaria’s print and broadcast media generally were considered unbiased, although the government dominated broadcasting through the state-owned Bulgarian National Television (BNT) and Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) and print news dissemination through the largest press agency, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency. [...]Human Rights: In the early 2000s, Bulgaria generally has been rated highly on the issue of human rights. However, some exceptions exist. Although the media have a record of unbiased reporting, Bulgaria’s lack of specific legislation protecting the media from state interference is a theoretical weakness."
- – Bulgaria country report for 2008, freedomhouse.org
- "Bulgarian government resigns amid growing protests". Yahoo News. Retrieved 20 February 2013.