National Assembly: Democratic Bulgaria PG Proposes Overhaul of Election Code, Removal of Ivan Geshev
On the first day of the 45th National Assembly the Democratic Bulgaria parliamentary group has tabled a draft Act to Amend and Supplement the Constitution and a draft Act to Amend and Supplement the Election Code, the Association said in a press release on Thursday. Most of the proposed constitutional revisions are intended to carry out a radical judicial reform which they say aims to ensure independent and fair administration of justice.
Under the first draft, the minister of justice or one-fifth of the MPs would be competent to propose a procedure for the removal from office of the prosecutor general. If supported by at least 140 MPs, the case would be referred to the
Constitutional Court or the President for a final decision.
Under the effective legislation, the Prosecutor General is removed by the President on a proposal by the plenum of the
Supreme Judicial Council.
According to Democratic Bulgaria, the powers of the prosecution service must be limited to criminal procedure and it must no longer exercise general supervision as to legality over the acts and actions of state bodies.
The coalition proposes that the prosecutor general be nominated by the minister of justice and be elected by Parliament by a three-fifth majority (i.e. 144 votes), and that his or her termin office be reduced from seven years now to five years. At present, the prosecutor general is elected by the Supreme Judicial Council plenum and is appointed by the President of the Republic.
Career and disciplining powers in the prosecution service would be vested in a Prosecutors Council of 11 members, of whom 5
would be elected by Parliament.
Under the draft, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) should be limited to the administration and human resource management of judges. The complement of the Council should be reduced from 25 members now to 15, of whom one-third (5) would be elected by Parliament (down from 11 now), 8 members would be elected directly by judges, while the presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court would again be members by right. The two supreme court presidents would be removed from office by the Constitutional Court on a motion by a two-thirds majority of the SJC members. The idea is to prevent politically motivated dismissal initiatives. Democratic Bulgaria argue that the present 11-member "political quota" in the SJC is disproportionately large and is practically preponderant because it works together with the prosecutor general, who is a member by right.
Other constitutional amendments, proposed by the coalition, would empower lower-instance courts to approach directly the
Constitutional Court, would allow citizens to lodge individual constitutional complaints with the Constitutional Court, and
would oblige Parliament to debate and pass draft legislation initiated by 10,000 citizens.
The bill has been signed by all 27 members of the parliamentary group, and they keep gathering signatures so as to have it backed by at least 60 MPs, needed for the legislature to consider it.
Democratic Bulgaria also proposes "consistent lustration" through constitutional and legislative revisions: persons who
have been affiliated with the communist-era security services or who have held high-level jobs in the communist party would be
disqualified from taking senior positions in national security, defence, home affairs and justice for ten years (until 2030).
Candidates for senior public office in national security and/or defence, justice, the Constitutional Court, and independent
control and regulatory authorities would be vetted for integrity and loyalty to democratic values and principles.
In their draft revisions to the Election Code, the coalition proposes the election of a new Central Election Commission, the introduction of postal voting, scrapping the limit of 35 voting sections in non-EU countries, the establishment of a separate
constituency for expat voters, and video streaming of vote counting after the end of polling day.
Democratic Bulgaria said it would table later on Thursday a package of bills concerning e-government, the closure of
specialized courts and prosecution offices, and transformation of the Counter-corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets
Forfeiture Commission, the Alliance said./BTA
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