Legislation proposed by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party to introduce a fully majoritarian system for electing MPs was handed an expected defeat at first reading in the National Assembly on June 15.
Borissov’s GERB, which had only the backing of the Assembly’s smallest party, Vesselin Mareshki’s 12-MP Volya, saw its bill rejected by all other groups – including its minority partner in the coalition government, the United Patriots.
GERB had tabled the bill as a sequel to a national referendum which saw large-scale support for a majoritarian electoral system for electing legislatures, to replace the current system of proportional representation.
That referendum, in which turnout was too low for the outcome to be binding on the National Assembly, was initiated by a television showman. Bulgaria’s courts have confirmed that the outcome of the referendum was not binding.
The GERB bill envisages the introduction of a system for electing Parliament through a two-round, majoritarian vote. It also envisages dividing Bulgaria into 240 constituencies – the name as the number of MPs provided for in the constitution.
Other parties – the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the United Patriots – are open to a change of electoral system, but say that they would prefer a mixture of proportional representation and a majoritarian ballot.
In the June 15 vote, GERB’s bill got 98 votes from its own parliamentary group, Volya and an independent, while 121 MPs – from the BSP, MRF and the United Patriots – voted against.
Earlier this week, the bill won first-reading approval from the National Assembly’s legal affairs committee, where it had the backing of MRF members of the committee. The MRF then repudiated this stance, saying that its committee members had been expressing their personal views, and that the party was against a majoritarian voting system./IBNA