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Allegations of “shopping” for MPs rife as deadline for formation of cabinet looms closer

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The leader of the main opposition party GERB Boyko Borissov accused We Continue the Change of putting pressure on MPs to be absent from plenary when the new cabinet on a We Continue the Change mandate is being voted by parliament. They are offering “colossal sums” and “payment in bitcoin”, Borissov alleged at a briefing, and added that one member of parliament represents around 10,000 voters, and that buying and selling votes at elections is prohibited by law, but “buying” MPs does just that.

“I must say that besides money for dissenters, colossal sums are being offered at the moment for staying out of the plenary hall and not voting, under the pretext of having had an accident. They are clinging to power so hard they are not even noticing what is going on around them.”

Later, in an interview with bTV, Delyan Dobrev, former energy minister, now MP from GERB admitted there was no evidence that any MPs were being “bought” by being offered positions and bitcoins, though rumours to that effect have been circulating energetically in parliament.

It also transpired that representatives of the ruling coalition have contacted three MPs from the nationalist Vazrazhdane. The party’s leader Kostadin Kostadinov stated, at a press conference, that they had been offered all kinds of forms of stimuli to support the government of prospective PM Assen Vassilev.

Talking to bTV, outgoing Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer vehemently denied any attempts at “buying” any members of parliament:

“Of course we are not “buying” MPs, consciences or people. The people that have been complaining are obviously on familiar ground here and know how these things are done,” Daniel Lorer stated. But the doubts of behind-the-scenes haggling seem to have lingered. Outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has stated on numerous occasions that We Continue the Change, Democratic Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Socialist Party are continuing to approach members of parliament who want to be shown the programme of the policies of the prospective future cabinet of the three political parties.

“Actually, there are several people who have to make up their minds who they are loyal to - whether to their party and leader, who, I believe has failed to keep his promise to the people,” PM Kiril Petkov said. “Or to all of us and take responsibility for the sake of Bulgaria so there is a chance of avoiding a political crisis.”

Toshko Yordanov, chair of the There Is Such a People parliamentary group complained that people from the ruling coalition had “in the most insolent manner” been ringing up people from their party:

“They’ve been ringing up relations of theirs. They’ve been ringing up brothers, children, they have been offering high positions. That is what they are doing right now, the people from the Assen Vassilev cabinet. If it was someone else doing the same thing – GERB or the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, for example - they would immediately be labelled as being “amoral”, but because it is We Continue the Change doing it, it is the most normal thing in the world.”

Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria reads:

(1) Members of the National Assembly shall represent not only their constituencies but the entire nation. No Member shall be held to a mandatory mandate.

(2) Members of the National Assembly shall act on the basis of the Constitution and the laws and in accordance with their conscience and convictions.

The notion of “conscience” is a moral and ethical category. But if there is any evidence of pressure or harassment in the workplace, then there are steps that can be taken – under an assortment of European directives and Bulgarian laws. Any member of parliament who feels he or she has been pressured can seek protection, but so far none have. All the more so that by the time any MP sets such a procedure rolling, the term of office of the current National Assembly may well be over. Whether the current parliament will be dissolved or will continue is something we are going to find out on 12 July when We Continue the Change will either garner a majority of more than 121 votes in parliament to form a new cabinet, or will return the mandate for the formation of a government.

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