Bulgaria’s 42nd National Assembly approved rules on print and online media during elections as voting on the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s controversial election code entered its latest day on February 18. Voting on the second reading of the election code began on February 12, but two sittings have collapsed since then – one amid a row over rules on using only Bulgarian in election campaigning, while on February 17 proceedings could not begin because of a lack of a quorum, the result of a row over the same issue. On the morning of February 18, all eyes were on whether the National Assembly would secure a quorum after the previous day’s walkout by Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalist Ataka party and by centre-opposition party GERB.
Siderov led his party out after permission was refused for him to table a resolution condemning Hyusein Hafazov, a Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP, for Hafazov’s fiery remarks about mother-tongue rights during the February 14 sitting. Hafazov, whose party has a strong electoral baese among Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity, had vowed to fight for the freedom to use the Turkish language.
But proceedings on February 18 went ahead after it appeared that a deal had been made between the BSP and Ataka for Siderov’s proposed resolution to be tabled in the afternoon.