Bulgarian President Refers Six-Point Referendum to Constitutional Court
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has referred to the Constitutional Court three of the questions featured on a six-point referendum which is scheduled to be held with the forthcoming presidential elections in the autumn.
The holding of the referendum, which has been initiated by the popular TV show hosted by Slavi Trifonov (Slavi's Show), was approved by parliament earlier this month after MPs had initially proposed for the referendum to take place earlier than planned.
In three months, Trifonov and his team collected 673 481 signatures in favour of holding the referendum. A check by competent authorities established that 572 650 of the signatures were valid, surpassing the threshold of 400 000 signatures required for the holding of referendum initiated by citizens.
The questions which Plevneliev has referred to the Constitutional Court concern the introduction of remote electronic voting, cutting the number of MPs in half from 240 to 120 and the direct election of the directors of the regional directorates of the interior ministry and the heads of the district police departments.
The other three questions featured in the referendum concern the introduction of compulsory voting, the introduction of majority electoral system and reducing the state subsidy paid to parties and coalitions to BGN 1 per voter.
Plevneliev has asked the Constitutional Court to rule whether the three questions are in compliance with the Constitution.
In his motives, the president notes that, according to the Constitution, all authority of the state emanates from the people and is being exercised either directly by the people (direct democracy) or through the bodies mentioned in the Constitution (representative democracy), with the two forms of democracy mutually complementing each other.
The head of state reminds that he has always supported active civil society and has expressed the view that the holding of referendums on important issues will increase the confidence of citizens in the political system and its institutions.
In his opinion, the referendum as the most powerful instrument of direct democracy could make the political environment in the country more sustainable and stable.
However this could not be achieved if direct and representative democracy are not being realised according to constitutional principles.
Plevneliev reminds that the last Grand National Assembly ruled that a new constitution as well as the most important changes to the acting one can be adopted by a Grand National Assembly.
According to him, this provision in the constitution should not be bypassed by allowing each national assembly with simple majority to adopt decision on the holding of referendums containing issues concerning the state's form of government.
In his opinion, the rare use of direct democracy in the years of transition has led to great deficit in the democratic development of Bulgaria.
The head of state believes that referendums are yet to play their considerable role for the consolidation of democracy.
The president thinks that it is exceptionally important referendums to be developed on the basis of clear rules and to make it clear what issues can be subject to referendum. Otherwise there is risk to direct democracy and citizens losing confidence in it.
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