Bulgaria: Parliament Voted down Proposal for Cutting Party Subsidy
Parliament rejected on first reading a proposal for slashing the party subsidy to 1 lev from 8 leva for each valid vote the party wins. The motion was defeated by 86-76 votes with six abstentions. The "against" votes came from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and Democratic Bulgaria.
The motion for reducing the subsidy was made by There Is Such a People (TISP), the second largest group in Parliament, and was debated for close to five hours. TISP argued that a lower subsidy was widely supported by a 2016 referendum which nearly
missed the vote target for making the proposition binding for the legislature.
Iva Miteva (TISP) said during the debate that the model of political financing calls for an in-depth analysis. She argued
that a lower subsidy will result in savings of 21 million leva a year which can be used in meaningful ways for Bulgarian people.
Rossitsa Kirova (GERB-UDF) said that the transparency of party funding needs to be ensured before any decision is made for
slashing the subsidy and declared that GERB support the 1 lev/vote proposal in principle.
UDF's Roumen Hristov, however, said that his party is not going to support the reduction.
BSP's Yavor Bozhankov said that his party views this proposal as harmful for political pluralism.
MP Yordan Tsonev (MRF) recalled his party's principled position in favour of public financing for political parties and argued
that a subsidy of 1 lev is not enough to cover parties' essential costs.
Atanas Slavov (Democratic Bulgaria) said that public funding is a constitutional standard for party financing.
Maya Manolova (Rise Up! Thugs Out!) argued in favour of the subsidy decrease arguing that 2.5 million Bulgarians voted in
favour of it in the 2016 referendum.
The parliamentary debate on Wednesday covered a wide scope of other issues as well. The deputies took close to an hour to
debate the weekly agenda. An outraged Toma Bikov (GERB-UDF) said that Parliament will be disbanded next week and it is
ridiculous to hear proposals for judicial and social reforms. "Obviously, we are in an election campaign and we are turning
Parliament into a laughing stock, which is not good," he said.
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