Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

THE ABSURDITY REGARDING THE FOURTH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Stubbornness that may cost dear - that's how we qualified a few months ago the reluctance of parliamentary majority to comply with the recommendations of European experts when adopting the third amendment to Bulgaria's Constitution. But while there was still hope then that the Government would somehow manage to explain the significance of the constitutional changes made, which according to our MPs was lost on the rapporteurs from Brussels, now it seems obvious that the consequent repair of the Constitution is inevitable if we want to convince the European Commission (EC) that our judicial system is independent. As it is known, the EC concluded that the passed constitutional amendments were threatening the independence of magistrates in our country. Afterwards, the Constitutional Court initiated two lawsuits on claims from the Supreme Cassation Court, concerning the impeachment procedure on the part of Parliament (introduced by the ruling coalition) against heads of the Supreme Cassation Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the justice minister regarding the judicial system.
However, the big question today is if the National Assembly will manage to vote the new changes prior the decisive report about Bulgaria's EU-accession. There is not much time left for moving them in Parliament and it is still not clear what they should be in fact. The question was tabled for discussion more than a month ago and then the NMSII MP and former parliamentary speaker Ognyan Gerdjikov expressed certainty that having already been burnt we could better phrase the provisions, the more so that we know what is wanted from us. It turned out we have again missed to understand everything.
In any case, the projected new supervisory body of the judicial system on which Bridget Charnota, responsible for Bulgaria in the EC's Enlargement department, insists, is still not clear not only to MPs, but also magistrates and non-government experts. That was expressly emphasized as well during the forum of the Civil Convent for Constitutional Reform, held in Sofia these days. The participants in it asked in vain if the existence of such an independent body of the judicial system was possible, considering the fact that it would be again chosen by the parliamentary majority. A week earlier Yanaki Stoilov who chairs the Legal Commission in the National Assembly expressed scepticism regarding the matter. An independent supreme body that supervises judicial power has no analogue in the other European countries, but our EU-membership will be probably connected with making the first attempt to apply new models here, he said.
The most unpleasant thing is that the rulers have already agreed with the demand for establishing such an institution, despite the obvious misunderstanding between the lawyers of the parliamentary majority and Bridget Charnota. That, together with the fear not to make a mistake again as when passing the third amendment, are some of the main reasons for the already fatal delay of the new constitutional amendments.
On the background of the present confusion of power its earlier stubbornness to listen to Brussels' recommendations seems more worthy. But that situation could not be avoided with the constant imitation of reforms and hasty adoption of laws.
Some lawyers and politicians share the opinion that the present Constitution needs considerably more amendments. During the years of its existence it was subjected to interpretation by the Constitutional Court 62 times, which is not a good attestation of its quality. For instance, the necessity of a radical constitutional reform is being pointed out, that would allow the Head of State to appoint referendums himself, without having to ask a preliminary permission from the National Assembly. The argument is that for the last 17 years since democratic changes in this country began Parliament has not a single time allowed Bulgarian citizens say their say on major issues, concerning their fate and the destiny of generations to come. Another motive is the necessity to impose upon the president as an imperative constitutional duty imperatively not to promulgate laws, passed without a quorum or with other MPs' electronic voting cards. Such a proposal for constitutional changes might sound ridiculous, but it reflects the absurdity which our MPs have arrived at. It's interesting if they will manage to come off clear again or if Bulgaria will join the EU with a precautionary clause in the the justice and home affairs area.

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