Bulgaria's parliament rejects govt proposal for new Constitution

Bulgaria's parliament rejects govt proposal for new Constitution

Bulgaria's parliament said on Wednesday that it has rejected a proposal to call elections for a Grand National Assembly in order to discuss a draft Constitution submitted by the ruling coalition.

The proposal, which needed the support of 160 members of parliament in order to pass, gathered only 111 votes in favour, the parliament said in a statement.

Eight members of parliament abstained from voting, while 93 voted against.

In September, the proposal was tabled for a vote by parliament by 127 of its members, including members of the populist Volya party, which is officially not part of the ruling coalition. The move was seen by many as an attempt by the government to survive until the general elections scheduled for 2021 amid protests which have been going on for months.

The draft Constitution envisaged cutting the current number of members of Parliament by half - to 120, reducing the number of members of a Grand National Assembly to 280 from 400 now, and several changes to the structure of the judiciary. The changes that aim to make the judiciary more accountable also envisage semi-annual hearings of the prosecutor general before parliament, as well as shortening of the term of office of the top prosecutor to five years from seven at present, prime minister Boyko Borissov explained in August.

Under Bulgaria's legislation, a Grand National Assembly, as opposed to an ordinary National Assembly, may be convened in order for matters of special jurisdiction, such as the adoption of a new Constitution. The last Grand National Assembly sat in 1990-1991, adopting the current Constitution.

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