Bulgaria's Parliament Еnds Last Session, Leaving Behind Mixed Legacy
A motley Bulgarian Parliament ended its last session on Thursday before noontime, adopting several pieces of legislation.
The 43rd National Assembly, which existed for just two years and three monhs, will be disbanded as of January 27, Friday.
There were eight parliamentary factions as the legislature was set up in the autumn of 2014 (compared to four in the previous assembly) - including two nationalist blocs, one of "centrists", center-right and center-left parties, right-wingers and lawmakers whose exact views remain yet unclear.
But a number of lawmakers splintered off within the next year, additionally fragmenting debates and votes. The first MPs to declare independence in the plenary hall did so in the very first days as lawmakers were sworn in.
Then followed six lawmakers from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party's faction as the latter's leader had been expelled and set up his own movement, with several MPs deciding to break away and join him.
In December of 2015, several Reformist Bloc lawmakers practically formed a group of their own after declaring they would move into opposition, contrary to the rest of the RB which was the junior partner in the government.
Another parliamentary group, called the Bulgarian Democratic Center, was formed around Bulgaria without Censorship party of Nikolay Barekov MEP but some of its members gradually took the party's core MPs away from it and seized control of the faction, effectively driving Barekov out of parliamentary life.
The two main nationalist factions - those of Ataka and the Patriotic Front - entered Parliament as competing groups but joined hands ahead of the presidential election, vowing to run together.
When it comes to laws, as many as 296 of the bills that reached Parliament's floor were passed, in as many as 260 plenary sessions.
MPs acted to change election legislation just months before the presidential vote was to take place. This inflamed public opinon more than a similar move months later, when the Electoral Code was amended less than two weeks before Bulgarians were to go to the polls.
But it also managed to drag its feet for months on subsequent change of the electoral system after that was required overwhelmingly by voters in a national referendum - despite insistence from across the political spectrum that the current system had to be changed to listen to "the will of the people".
Not least, if failed to pass a new anti-corruption law for roughly two years, despite that being one of the key pledges of the Reformist Bloc, and despite strong criticism for the west over how MPs were delaying steps to progress.
Parliament's work has left lawmakers themselves quite divided.
Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva, on adjourning the last session, said her legislature proved as the "most transparent" institution in society. "We didn't work surrounded by fences, [guarded by] police cars and [law enforcement] officers," she said.
In an interview with the Bulgarian National Television, however, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)'s spokesperson Zhelyo Boychev said the two years of the national assembly had been "wasted time".
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