Bulgaria: Parliament Rejects Draft New Constitution

The Bulgarian parliament on Wednesday rejected a controversial plan by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to rewrite the constitution, which he submitted in August in an attempt to defuse the political crisis.   This proposal, recently criticized by the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s consultative body on constitutional matters, received only 110 votes in favor, while a qualified majority of 160 out of 240 deputies was needed to continue the procedure. The Conservative government had launched such an initiative to try to weaken the protest movement, which vehemently denounces its alleged links with the oligarchy. But this decision, seen as a maneuver to buy time and stay in power until the general elections were held in March 2021, provoked a strong reaction from the demonstrators. Clashes with the police left more than 45 injured in Sofia in early September.   The project brought for its detractors no limitation of the power of the Attorney General Ivan Geshev, today untouchable, whose resignation is demanded by the protesters.   Deploring “a missed opportunity,” the Venice Commission regretted, in a press release, “that the launch of the constitutional reform was not preceded by an appropriate public debate, that the project was drawn up within the majority Parliament, apparently without any external input, and that the reasons for certain amendments were not well explained.”    The demonstrations brought together thousands of people for more than 100 days, before becoming scarce in recent weeks, in particular because of the health situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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