By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of the Sofia Globe
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party says it considering mounting a Constitutional Court challenge to a new rule enabling the Speaker to suspend MPs who insult the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, President or Vice President.
The rule was voted on November 21 as the recently-elected 43rd National Assembly completed approval of its rules of procedure.
It empowers the Speaker to suspend from more than one but no more than three sittings of the House any MP who “insults” the head of government, head of state or other senior state office-bearers.
The leader of the BSP, Mihail Mikov – who was Speaker of the 42nd National Assembly – said that the rule set back Bulgaria by a century, to the time of Tsar Ferdinand and Alexander Stamboliiski and was an “absolute violation of the constitution”.
Mikov said that according to the constitution, members of Parliament could not be held criminally liable for their opinions.
GERB, the largest party in the House and whose leader Boiko Borissov is Prime Minister, had showed an “extreme Bolshevik mentality,” Mikov said.
He told reporters that the party would oppose the rule by all possible means, not for its own sake but for the sake of parliamentarism and democracy.
The new rule, which expands a previous rule forbidding insults of the President and of the National Assembly, also was opposed by Ataka, the far-right ultra-nationalist party that backed the May 2013/August 2014 ruling axis but now is in opposition as one of the two smallest parties in Parliament.