Going by the claims of organisers, more than a million signatures have been collected to demand that Bulgaria’s Parliament agrees to the holding of a national referendum on electoral law reform. If the figure is accurate and stands up to official scrutiny, it will be more than double the statuory minimum required for requiring Parliament to call a referendum. At issue is President Rossen Plevneliev’s call in January for the 42nd National Assembly to agree to the holding of a referendum on three issues – a majoritarian element in the election of MPs, compulsory voting and electronic voting – and for this question to be put to Bulgarian citizens when they go to vote on May 25 2014 in European Parliament elections. In collaboration, the parties of the ruling axis, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, already have voted in the legal affairs committee on Parliament to reject Plevneliev’s call.
The ruling axis has said that Plevneliev wants to sabotage the BSP’s own recently-approved electoral laws – which Plevneliev has said he will veto, to which the parties in power responded that they will seek the National Assembly’s agreement to override Plevneliev’s veto.
According to constitutional law professor Georgi Bliznashki, who heads the committee to gather the signatures for a petition in support of Plevneliev’s referendum proposal, by February 27 more than 500 000 signatures had been gathered.
Further, centre-right opposition party GERB – alone among the parties in the 42nd National Assembly to have supported Plevneliev’s call – said that it had garnered more than 500 000 signatures. If the figure of more than a million is true, it would be a signal achievement in Bulgaria’s post-communist system.