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Is there going to be a referendum on the adoption of the euro – the jury is still out

| updated on 7/11/23 11:25 AM

The majority in the National Assembly, i.e. GERB/SDS and We Continue the Change/Democratic Bulgaria (PP/DB) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, rejected the proposal by the nationalist party Vazrazhdane for the holding of a referendum on keeping the Bulgarian Lev as the sole “official” currency over the next 20 years.

According to the law (on direct citizen participation in governance), when the proposal is made by an organizing committee via a petition containing the signatures of no less than 400,000 Bulgarian citizens who are eligible to vote and meets the requirements of the law, the National Assembly is obligated to adopt a decision for the holding of a referendum.

When in April Vazrazhdane submitted 590,000 signatures in favour of holding a referendum asking the question: “Do you agree to the Bulgarian Lev remaining the only official currency in Bulgaria until 2043?”, the probe that followed established that 470,000 of them were valid. And even though the 400,000 threshold had been cleared, the majority rejected the proposal with the motive that the question asked in the referendum does not comply with the law. However, after the proposal was voted in plenary, doubts arose as to what it was the MPs had actually voted.

According to Vazrazhdane, what was voted in plenary was the draft decision of the legal affairs committee, which had rejected the referendum a few days before, as contradicting Bulgaria’s EU accession treaty, and not the proposal for a referendum. By voting against the draft decision, instead of against the referendum,Vazrazhdane says the MPs are allowing the holding of a referendum. Consequently, Vazrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov urged President Rumen Radev to set a date for the referendum and to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court.

However, the MPs who voted against the decision rejected Vazrazhdane’s allegations, saying that what had been voted in plenary was the draft of a decision on holding a referendum.

“If we read the law carefully, we shall see that what the parliamentary committee is proposing should be voted in plenary,” Assoc. Prof. Natalia Kiselova, who lectures constitutional law, explains in an interview with the BNR. “As a rule, the committee should submit a positive draft of a decision. In this case – the referendum on the Lev – it is proposing a negative draft decision, and Rositsa Kirova, who was chairing the parliamentary sitting at the time, called for a positive vote. That is the reason why there was such a discrepancy regarding what the MPs were voting. The rules of voting were, in fact broken, because it should have been based on the draft of the committee. Still, that does not give us grounds to say there has been reverse voting.”

Assoc. Prof. Kiselova points out further that for there to be another vote, someon