Bulgarian MPs Approve Holding of Six-Point Referendum on Political System
The Bulgarian parliament approved on Thursday the holding of a six-point referendum on the political system proposed by popular TV host Slavi Trifonov.
A total of 131 MPs voted in favour, eighteen lawmakers were against, while one abstained, daily Dnevnik informs.
This development comes after the legal affairs parliamentary committee approved on Wednesday five out of the six questions proposed for inclusion in the referendum.
The only question not approved by MPs on Wednesday was the one for the introduction of remote electronic voting.
MPs explained their decision to reject the inclusion of the question, saying that it has already been subject to a referendum last year when the majority of voters voted in favour of its introduction.
According to the latest amendments to the Electoral Code adopted by parliament before its Easter recess, the first trial remote electronic voting will be held after 1 January 2018.
MPs approved the five other questions, which propose cutting in half the number of MPs from 240 to 120, introduction of two-round majority electoral system, introduction of compulsory voting, reducing the state subsidy paid to parties and coalitions to BGN 1 per voter and the direct election of the directors of the regional directorates of the interior ministry and the heads of district police departments.
Slavi's Show, the TV show hosted by Trifonov, initiated a petition in November last year, managing to collect 673 481 signatures in three months in favour of holding the referendum.
A check of competent authorities established that 572 650 of the signatures were valid, which surpassed the threshold of 400 000 signatures required for the holding of a referendum initiated by citizens.
Before the Easter recess, parliament adopted a controversial amendment to the Electoral Code, revoking a provision which had stipulated that referendums should be held simultaneously with elections if the two are to take place in the same year.
Later, MPs reversed their decision and kept the provision that referendums and elections should be held simultaneously if the two are to take place in the same year.
Thus the referendum will be held together with the forthcoming presidential elections in the autumn rather than in the summer as had been sought by the amendment.
During the discussions on Thursday, MPs from the opposition parties argued that some of the questions are in contradiction with the constitution and require the summoning of a Great National Assembly.
Most of the MPs from the largest opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the nationalist Ataka did not participate in the voting, while lawmakers from the second largest opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) voted against.
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