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Politics of Bulgaria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The politics of Bulgaria take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic,[1] whereby the prime minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system.[2] 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.

After forty-five years of single party system, Bulgaria became an unstable party system in 1989. This system was dominated by democratic parties and opposition to socialists – the Union of Democratic Forces and several personalistic parties and the post-communist Bulgarian Socialist Party or its creatures, which emerged for a short period of time in the past decade. Personalistic parties could have been seen in the former governing (from 2001 to 2005) Simeon II's NDSV party and Boyko Borisov's GERB party.

Bulgaria has generally good freedom of speech and human rights records as reported by the US Library of Congress Federal Research Division in 2006,[3] while Freedom House listed it as "free" in 2020, giving it scores of 33 for political rights and 45 for civil liberties.[4] However, in 2014, there were some concerns that the proposed new Penal Code would limit freedom of the press and assembly,[5] and as a consequence freedom of speech. The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Bulgaria a "flawed democracy" in 2022.[6][needs update]

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.

In the first parliamentary elections held under the new constitution of Bulgaria, in October 1991, the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) party won a plurality of the seats, having won 110 out of the 240 seats, and created a cabinet alone with the support of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms—a liberal party (in Bulgarian abbreviated: DPS) which is widely perceived as a party of the ethnic Turks minority in Bulgaria. 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 it also collapsed. The President dissolved the government and appointed a provisional one to serve until early parliamentary elections could be held in December.

BSP won convincingly these 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 collapsed and in 1997 a caretaker cabinet was appointed by the President, again, to serve until early parliamentary elections could be held in April 1997.

The April 1997 elections resulted in a landslide victory for the SDS, winning a majority of 137 seats in parliament, and allowing them to form the next government. 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), having won half (120) of the seats.[7] His party entered a coalition with the DPS and invited two functionaries of the BSP (who sat as independents). In opposition were the two previously governing parties - the Socialist Party and the Union of Democratic Forces. In the four years in opposition the SDS suffered the defection of numerous splinter groups. The ruling party NDSV itself ruptured into a pro-right core and a pro-liberal fringe group.[8] Bulgaria entered NATO in 2004.[9]

In the aftermath, the BSP won the parliamentary elections in 2005 with 82 out of the 240 seats, but as it did not 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.[10] Bulgarian entered the European Union in 2007.[11]

In the parliamentary elections of 2009, the centre-right party of Boyko Borisov, the mayor of Sofia, GERB, won with 117 seats. The party formed a minority government with the support of the right-wing parties.[12] Once the governing party - the National Movement Simeon II did not amass enough votes to enter the parliament.[13] 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.[14]

In the early elections the former opposition party BSP received highest vote from the people. The socialist party chose the non-party former Minister of Finance Plamen Oresharski to form a cabinet. His cabinet was supported by the BSP and the DPS, opposed by GERB, while Ataka was absent.[15]

Only two weeks after its initial formation the Oresharski government came under criticism and had to deal with large-scale protests some with more than 11 000 participants.[16] One of the main reasons for these protests was the controversial appointment of media mogul Delyan Peevski as a chief of the National Security State Agency.[17] The protests continued over the lifetime of the Oresharski government. In all, the government survived 5 votes of no-confidence before voluntarily resigning.[18] Following an agreement from the three largest parties (GERB, BSP and DPS) to hold early parliamentary elections for 25 March 2016,[19] the cabinet agreed to resign, with the resignation of the cabinet becoming a fact on 13 January 2016. The next day parliament voted 180-8 (8 abstained and 44 were absent) to accept the government's resignation. Following the vote, President Plevneliev offered the mandate to GERB to try and form government, but it was refused. The next day the BSP returned the mandate as well.[20] On 21 January, the DPS refused the mandate as well. Finally, on 26 January, a caretaker government led by Georgi Bliznashki was sworn into office and the Oresharski government was officially dissolved.[21]

As agreed, parliamentary elections were held on 25 March 2016 to elect the 43rd National Assembly.[22] GERB became the largest party, winning 84 of the 240 seats with around a third of the vote. A total of eight parties won seats, the first time since the beginning of democratic elections in 1990 that more than seven parties entered parliament.[23] After being tasked by President Rosen Plevneliev to form a government, Borisov's GERB formed a coalition with the Reformist Bloc,[24][25][26] had a partnership agreement for the support of the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival,[27] and also had the outside support of the Patriotic Front. The cabinet of twenty ministers was approved by a majority of 136–97 (with one abstention). With the support of the coalition partner (the Reformist Bloc) members of the parties in the Bloc (Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB), Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), Bulgaria for Citizens Movement (DBG) and Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BZNS)) were chosen for Minister positions. The vice chairman of the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival party Ivaylo Kalfin was voted for Depute Prime Minister and Minister of Labor and Social Policy.

In May 2017, Boyko Borisov was re-elected as Prime Minister of Bulgaria for the second time. Borisov had resigned and called early elections after his conservative GERB party lost the presidential elections previous year. He formed a coalition government with nationalist VMRO-BND and National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria. The Socialist Party and the Turkish DPS party formed the opposition.[28]

The 2020–2021 Bulgarian protests were triggered on 9 July 2020 when the Presidency of Bulgaria was raided by police and prosecutors as a result of a long-lasting conflict between the prime minister Boyko Borisov and the president Rumen Radev.[29] In April 2021, Borisov's party, center-right, pro-European GERB won the parliamentary election. It was again the largest party of the parliament but it did not get the absolute majority, indicating difficult coalition talks.[30] All other parties refused to form a government,[31] and after a brief deadlock, another elections were called for July 2021, with Stefan Yanev serving as an interim Prime Minister of a caretaker cabinet until then.[32]

In the July 2021 snap election, an anti-elite party called There Is Such a People (ITN) finished first with 24.08 percent and former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's GERB-led coalition finished second with 23.51 percent of the vote.[33] A coalition government was unable to be formed, and so a third parliamentary election was scheduled for November 2021 to align with the regularly scheduled presidential election. In the 2021 Bulgarian general election, Kiril Petkov's PP party emerged as surprise victors over the conservative GERB party, which had dominated Bulgarian politics in the last decade. In December 2021, Bulgaria’s parliament formally elected Kiril Petkov as the country's next prime minister, ending a months-long political crisis. The new centrist-led government was a coalition led by Petkov’s anti-corruption We Continue The Change party (PP) with three other political groups: the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, the anti-elite There Is Such A People party, and the liberal group Democratic Bulgaria. They together control 134 seats in Bulgaria’s 240-seat parliament.[34] The cabinet of Kiril Petkov fell after a vote of no confidence of 22 June 2022.[35] President Radev appointed Galab Donev as acting prime minister to lead a caretaker cabinet. Bulgaria's fourth parliamentary elections in less than two years will be held on October 2, 2022.[36]

In April 2023, because of the political deadlock, Bulgaria held its fifth parliamentary election since April 2021. GERB was the biggest, winning 69 seats. The bloc led by We Continue the Change won 64 seats in the 240-seat parliament. In June 2023, Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov formed a new coalition between We Continue The Change and GERB. According to the coalition agreement, Denkov will lead the government for the first nine months. He will be succeeded by former European Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel, of the GERB party. She will take over as Prime Minister after nine months.[37]



In 1992, Zhelyu Zhelev won Bulgaria's first presidential elections and served as president until 1997. In the second, the winning President was another member of the Union of Democratic Forces, Petar Stoyanov, who served until 2002.[38] In 2001, the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Georgi Parvanov defeated Stoyanov.[39] He took office in 2002 and served until 2012, becoming the first president to be reelected, after his successful 2006 campaign.[40] In 2011 GERB candidate Rosen Plevneliev was elected to serve as president from 2012 until January 2017.[41] In 2016 Socialist party candidate, former air force commander Rumen Radev won the presidential election.[42][43] On 18 January 2017, Rumen Radev was sworn in as the new President of Bulgaria.[44] President Rumen Radev, a vocal critic and rival of prime minister Borisov, announced that he will run for a second five-year term in autumn 2021 presidential elections.[45] In November 2021, President Rumen Radev was easily re-elected in the presidential election with a very low turnout of 34 per cent.[46]

Executive branch


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.

Legislative branch

The National Assembly

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.



Parliamentary elections


The results showed that no party attained a majority in the National Assembly, with GERB attaining a plurality of seats. Turnout was 33 percent, the lowest since the end of communist rule in 1989.[47][48]

Movement for Rights and Freedoms366,31016.5647+11
We Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria307,84913.9239−25
BSP for Bulgaria151,5606.8519−4
There is Such a People128,0075.7916+5
Morality, Unity, Honour [bg]63,9922.890New
Blue Bulgaria33,6131.520New
Solidary Bulgaria31,4761.420New
VMRO – Bulgarian National Movement21,2720.9600
The Left!15,1750.6900
Bulgarian Rise12,3220.5600
Green Movement9,3240.4200
People's Voice6,5600.3000
We Are Coming5,9390.270New
Party of the Greens [bg]5,4940.2500
Direct Democracy [bg]5,2070.2400
We the Citizens4,6620.210New
Bulgarian Voice3,3780.150New
Citizens Bloc3,0030.140New
People's Party "Truth and Only the Truth" [bg]2,4830.1100
Neutral Bulgaria2,4620.1100
Coalition of the Rose [bg]2,2060.100New
Society for a New Bulgaria [bg]2,2490.1000
Bulgarian National Union – New Democracy2,1280.1000
For a Great Bulgaria1,8930.090New
Bulgarian Union for Direct Democracy [bg]9460.0400
Bulgarian National Unification9200.0400
None of the above63,9132.89
Valid votes2,211,64897.42
Invalid/blank votes58,4962.58
Total votes2,270,144100.00
Registered voters/turnout6,797,69833.40
Source: Central Electoral Commission

Presidential elections

CandidateRunning matePartyFirst roundSecond round
Rumen RadevIliana IotovaIndependent (BSPzB, PP, ITN, IBG-NI)1,322,38549.421,539,65066.72
Anastas GerdzhikovNevyana MitevaIndependent (GERBSDS)610,86222.83733,79131.80
Mustafa KaradayiIskra MihaylovaMovement for Rights and Freedoms309,68111.57
Kostadin KostadinovElena GunchevaRevival104,8323.92
Lozan PanovMaria KasimovaIndependent (Democratic Bulgaria)98,4883.68
Luna YordanovaIglena IlievaIndependent21,7330.81
Volen SiderovMagdalena TashevaAttack14,7920.55
Svetoslav VitkovVeselin BelokonskiPeople's Voice13,9720.52
Milen MihovMariya TsvetkovaVMRO – Bulgarian National Movement13,3760.50
Rosen MilenovIvan IvanovIndependent12,6440.47
Goran BlagoevIvelina GeorgievaRepublicans for Bulgaria12,3230.46
Veselin MareshkiPolina TsankovaVolya Movement10,5360.39
Valeri SimeonovTsvetan ManchevPatriotic Front8,5680.32
Nikolay MalinovSvetlana KosevaRussophiles for the Revival of the Fatherland8,2130.31
Tsveta KirilovaGeorgi TutanovIndependent7,7060.29
Aleksandar TomovLachezar AvramovBulgarian Social Democratic PartyEuroLeft7,2350.27
Boyan RasateElena VatashkaBulgarian National Union – New Democracy6,7980.25
Marina MalchevaSavina LukanovaIndependent6,3150.24
Zhelyo ZhelevKalin KrulevSociety for a New Bulgaria6,1540.23
Blagoy PetrevskiSevina HadjiyskaBulgarian Union for Direct Democracy5,5180.21
Yolo DenevMario FilevIndependent5,3940.20
Maria KolevaGancho PopovPravoto4,6660.17
Georgi Georgiev-GotiStoyan TsvetkovBulgarian National Unification2,9580.11
None of the above60,7862.2734,1691.48
Valid votes2,675,93599.652,307,61099.83
Invalid/blank votes9,4870.353,9090.17
Total votes2,685,422100.002,311,519100.00
Registered voters/turnout6,949,93838.646,868,73733.65
Source: Electoral Commission of Bulgaria (first round), Electoral Commission of Bulgaria (second round)

European elections

Bulgarian Socialist Party474,16023.535+1
Movement for Rights and Freedoms323,51016.053–1
IMRO – Bulgarian National Movement143,8307.142+1
Democratic Bulgaria118,4845.881+1
Volya Movement70,8303.510New
Patriots for Valeri Simeonov (NFSBSEK)22,4211.1100
NDSV–New Time21,3151.0600
Coalition for Bulgaria16,7590.8300
Democrats for Responsibility, Solidarity and Tolerance7,1300.350New
People's Voice6,1360.3000
Party of Greens6,0510.3000
Movement 214,1410.210New
Reload Bulgaria3,9070.190New
Together Movement3,7310.190New
Direct Democracy2,4250.120New
Bulgarian National Unification2,3700.120New
Rise (RDPENPBNF ChicagoSSD–BDS R)1,8550.090New
None of the above61,0293.03
Valid votes2,015,32096.17
Invalid/blank votes80,2383.83
Total votes2,095,558100.00
Registered voters/turnout6,378,69432.85
Source: CIK

Judicial branch


The Bulgarian judicial system consists of regional, district and appeal courts, as well as a Supreme Court of Cassation and one Specialized Criminal Court.[49] 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.

Administrative divisions


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 265 municipalities.

Other data


Political pressure groups and leaders:

See also



  1. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria Archived 2014-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Bulgaria Library of Congress Country Study, Government and politics - overview, p. 16
  3. ^ 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.Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Government.
  4. ^ "Bulgaria: Freedom in the World 2021 Country Report". Freedom House. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  5. ^ Carney, Sean (22 January 2014). "Bulgaria Faces Criticism Over Proposed Legislation - WSJ". Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ Democracy Index 2023: Age of Conflict (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit (Report). 2024. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2024-06-09. Retrieved 2024-07-22.
  7. ^ "2001: The "royal" prime minister". bnr.bg.
  8. ^ "Bulgaria's Ex-King Party Faces Split - Reports - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency". www.novinite.com.
  9. ^ "19 Years after Bulgaria Joined NATO, Experts Comment on Its Importance and Challenges". www.bta.bg.
  10. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld | Bulgaria: The June 2005 federal election (June 2005 - August 2005)". Refworld.
  11. ^ "Romania and Bulgaria join the EU". 1 January 2007.
  12. ^ "New Bulgarian PM – DW – 07/27/2009". dw.com.
  13. ^ "Bulgaria ex-king resigns as party leader after poll". Reuters. 6 July 2009.
  14. ^ "Bulgarian government resigns amid growing protests". Reuters. 20 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Bulgaria approves new leader – DW – 05/29/2013". dw.com.
  16. ^ Seiler Bistra; Emiliyan Lilov (26 June 2013). "Bulgarians protest government of 'oligarchs'". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Birth of a civil society". The Economist. 21 September 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Timeline of Oresharski's Cabinet: A Government in Constant Jeopardy". Novinite.com. Sofia News Agency. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  19. ^ "President Plevneliev Urges Outgoing Parliament to Review Budget". Novinite.com. Sofia News Agency. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  20. ^ "Bulgarian Socialist Party Returns Mandate". Novinite.com. Sofia News Agency. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Bulgaria's interim PM promises to restore public trust". Reuters. 6 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Bulgaria's 42nd Parliament Dissolved, Elections on October 5". Novinite.com. Sofia News Agency. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  23. ^ Petrov, Angel. "Bulgaria's Grand Parliament Chessboard Might Be Both Ailment and Cure". Novinite.com. Sofia News Agency. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  24. ^ "Bulgaria: EPP President welcomes new coalition government led by Boyko Borissov (EN+BG)". www.epp.eu/. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  25. ^ "Bulgarian parties approve coalition agreement, cabinet". www.euractiv.com/. EurActiv. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  26. ^ "GERB and Reformist block finally sign a coalition agreement, the new cabinet to be voted today". www.ffbh.bg. FFBH. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  27. ^ Bulgaria's GERB Party Signs Partnership Deal with Left-Wing ABV
  28. ^ "Borisov elected Bulgarian PM for a third time | MINA Report". Archived from the original on 2017-06-08.
  29. ^ "A seaside-villa scandal sparks huge protests in Bulgaria". The Economist. 23 July 2020.
  30. ^ "Bulgaria election: PM Borissov's party wins but falls short of majority | DW | 05.04.2021". Deutsche Welle.
  31. ^ "Bulgaria faces fresh elections as Socialists refuse to form a government". Reuters. May 2021.
  32. ^ "Bulgaria's caretaker prime minister says priority is rule of law". Reuters. 12 May 2021.
  33. ^ "Final Results In Bulgarian Vote Confirm Win For Anti-Elite Party". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 14 July 2021.
  34. ^ "Kiril Petkov chosen by Bulgarian parliament as next prime minister". euronews. 13 December 2021.
  35. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Bulgaria government collapses after no-confidence vote | DW | 22.06.2022". DW.COM.
  36. ^ "Bulgarian President Calls Snap Polls For October 2, Appoints Caretaker Cabinet". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
  37. ^ "Bulgaria's parliament elects new government led by PM Denkov". Reuters. 6 June 2023.
  38. ^ "Mandate – Petar Stoyanov".
  39. ^ "Profile: Georgi Parvanov". 19 November 2001.
  40. ^ "Parvanov Claims Victory in Bulgarian Presidential Election". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 8 April 2008.
  41. ^ "Rossen Plevneliev inaugurated as new Bulgarian President".
  42. ^ "Opposition candidate Rumen Radev leading in Bulgaria presidential elections | DW | 06.11.2016". Deutsche Welle.
  43. ^ "Pro-Russia candidate wins Bulgaria's presidential election".
  44. ^ Tsolova, Tsvetelia (19 January 2017). "Russia-friendly Radev sworn in as Bulgaria's president, set to dissolve parliament". Reuters.
  45. ^ "Bulgarian president Radev to seek a second term | Macau Business". February 2021.
  46. ^ "Radev Re-elected Bulgarian President on Record Low Turnout". Balkan Insight. 22 November 2021.
  47. ^ Kobeszko, Łukasz (2024-06-13). "Snap election in Bulgaria: a worsening political crisis and a strengthening radical right". Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich (Centre for Eastern Studies).
  48. ^ "Bulgarian election delivers another fragmented parliament". Al Jazeera. 10 June 2024. Archived from the original on 10 June 2024. Retrieved 9 June 2024.