Politics of Bulgaria

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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 1989, after forty-five years of single party system, Bulgaria had an unstable party system, 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 be seen as the governing Simeon II's NDSV party and Boyko Borisov's GERB party. Today, the president is Rosen Plevnevliev

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 2011, giving it scores of 2 for political rights and 2 for civil liberties.[4] However, in 2014, there is some concern that the proposed new Penal Code would limit freedom of the press and assembly,[5] and as a consequence freedom of speech.

Developments since 1990[edit]


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. 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. Bulgarian entered NATO in 2004.

In the aftermath, the 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. Bulgarian entered the European Union in 2007.

In the parliamentary elections of 2009 the centre-right party of the mayor of Sofia won GERB picking up 117 seats. The party formed a minority government with the support of the right-wing parties. Once the governing party - the National Movement Simeon II did not amass enough votes to enter the parliament. 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. This was the first time since 1989 that a ruling party was re-elected; in the past painful and unpopular reforms had to be implemented. However, as GERB received only 97 of the 240 seats, and failed to make a coalition, they refused the mandate, handing it down to the next party BSP. 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.


In 1992 Zhelev won Bulgaria's first presidential elections and served as President until 1997. The second President was another member of the Union of Democratic Forces - Petar Stoyanov, who served until 2002. In 2001 leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party - Georgi Parvanov defeated Stoyanov and took office in 2002 and served until 2012; becoming the only president to be reelected after his successful 2006 campaign. In 2011 GERB candidate Rosen Plevneliev was elected to serve as President from 2012 until January, 2017.

Executive branch[edit]

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 a coalition between the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party and the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

Legislative branch[edit]

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.


Main article: Elections in Bulgaria
Distribution of votes by constituency
e • d Summary of the 2013 National Assembly of Bulgaria election results:
Party Votes  % +/– Seats +/–
  GERB 1,081,605 30.54 -9.16 97 −20
  Coalition for Bulgaria 942,541 26.61 +8.91 84 +44
  Movement for Rights and Freedoms 400,466 11.31 -2.69 36 -1
  Attack 258,481 7.30 -2.10 23 +2
  National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria 131,169 3.70 new 0 new
  Bulgaria for Citizens Movement 115,190 3.25 new 0 new
  Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria 103,638 2.93 0 -5
  IMRO – Bulgarian National Movement 66,803 1.89 new 0 new
  Lider 61,482 1.74 -1.56 0 0
  Order, Law and Justice 59,145 1.67 -2.43 0 -10
  Center–Freedom and Dignity 57,611 1.63 new 0 new
  Union of Democratic Forces 48,681 1.38 0 -9
  Others 124,886 0
Invalid votes 90,047
Votes cast (turnout: %) 3,541,745 51.33
Registred voters 6,919,260
Source: Electoral Commission of Bulgaria
e • d Summary of the 2011 Bulgarian presidential election results:
Candidate Party First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
Rosen Plevneliev GERB 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
Volen Siderov Attack 122,466 3.64
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
Invalid/blank votes 229,844 6.40 104,837 3.14
Votes cast 3,593,928 100 3,334,166 100
Registered voters/turnout 6,873,589 52.29 6,910,491 48.25
Source: Electoral Commission of Bulgaria

Judicial branch[edit]

The Bulgarian judicial system consists of regional, district and appeal courts, as well as a Supreme Court of Cassation and one Specialized Criminal Court.[6] 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[edit]

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.

International relations[edit]

Other data[edit]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria
  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. 
  4. ^ Bulgaria country report for 2008, freedomhouse.org
  5. ^ http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304856504579336590405697378
  6. ^ http://www.spcc.bg