Bulgaria’s GERB, DPS, Reformist Bloc Fail to Agree on Constitutional Amendments
After nearly two hours of talks on Tuesday, center-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), liberal party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and right-wing formation the Reformist Bloc failed to reach agreement on draft constitutional amendments.
At the end of the meeting Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borisov announced that there were two options, one of them, following DPS’ latest request, to withdraw the existing draft amendments to Constitution and to submit a new project backed by 180 MPs as fast as possible, seeking to secure its approval by September 15, or to proceed with the existing set of amendments, seeking the support of 160 MPs, thereby delaying the procedure by end-2015.
DPS have called for a new set of changes to the Constitution based on the three key points considered as points of consensus, according to DPS leader Lyutvi Mestan.
Speaking before the meeting with Borisov and Kanev, Mestan demanded the withdrawal of the existing project and vowed the support of DPS for a new one in an interview for private TV station bTV.
Mestan, as cited by mediapool.bg, claimed that in the case of a new project there would also be enough time to adopt the constitutional changes before the local elections in October.
To illustrate his point, he said that if the new project was submitted alongside the withdrawal of the current one, it could be put to the vote in one month’s time, or 21-23 August, provided that it was backed by 180 MPs.
He underscored that in the case of only 160 MPs in favor of the constitutional amendments, the best-case scenario for the current project, it would take 2-5 months to move on to the second reading, meaning that the changes could not be passed before the local elections.
The center-left Alternative for Bulgarian Revival Party (ABV) backs three points of the existing bill, including the establishment of two colleges within the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS), the direct election of VSS members from the magistrates’ quota, and the strengthening of the role of the VSS Inspectorate.
DPS has opposed the elimination of the secret ballot and the reduction of the term in office of VSS, with ABV siding with both of these demands.
DPS has also given up on the demand that the split of VSS into two colleges had to be put to the vote of a Grand National Assembly.
The Reformist Bloc and Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov insist on the current bill.
Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting with Lyutvi Mestan (DPS) and Radan Kanev (Reformist Bloc), Borisov pointed out that a failure of the constitutional reform would also mean a failure of judicial reform, adding that this would cause Bulgaria to lag behind Romania substantially in the next report under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM).
Borisov told journalists that he preferred the scenario of keeping the current project amid the support of 160 MPs, adding that he would rely on the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and on the Bulgarian Democratic Center for this.
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