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News 20 Apr 17

Newcomers Dominate Bulgaria’s New Parliament

The 240 MPs sworn in at the opening session of Bulgaria’s 44th National Assembly on Wednesday included a large number of political novices, more generals and journalists than before, and fewer legal experts.

Mariya Chresheva
Bulgaria's parliament in Sofia. Photo: Julian Nitzshe/Wikimedia Commons

Although Boyko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party holds the greatest number of seats in the new Bulgarian parliament - 95 - another "party" might be said to have secured an absolute majority for the next four years, namely newcomers.

A total of 121 out of 240 MPs elected in the snap election on March 26 made their debut as lawmakers at the opening ceremony of the new parliament on Wednesday.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, whose leader Korneliya Ninova has vowed to bring a change to Bulgarian politics, despite still being in opposition, has the largest number of freshmen and women in its ranks, with 47 out of its 80 MPs serving their first mandate.

It nominated both the youngest MP in parliament -  a 25-year-old former model, Teodora Halacheva, and a 74-year-old journalist, Toma Tomov, who by tradition opened the first plenary session.

“My age gives me few minutes for the right to ask you to close your eyes and to see with your hearts,” Tomov told his colleagues, expressing hopes for a “new Golden Age” in which the children of Bulgaria will return to their country.

Elena Yoncheva. Photo: Bulgarian Socialist Party

Tomov is not the only journalist in the new parliament, however. War correspondent Elena Yoncheva, who covered conflicts in Algeria, Kosovo, Afganistan, Iraq, Chechnya, and elsewhere, will be the new speaker of the Socialists.

The BSP’s main rival, GERB, also has a journalist in its parliamentary ranks, the former editor-in-chief of the Burgas edition of the 24 chasa newspaper, Diana Savateva.

Army generals have a strong presence in the new assembly, too. Two of them, Brigade General Kolyo Milev and former defence chief Simeon Simeonov are from the ranks of the Socialists and the ethnic-Turkish dominated Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

GERB, whose presidential nominee, Tsetska Tsacheva, lost to former air-force chief general Rumen Radev, has pushed two generals into parliament – navy officer Plamen Manushev, who ran for the post of Vice-President, and former defence head Konstantin Popov.  

Stefan Aposolov. Photo: GERB

Among the newcomers in Borissov’s party is another interesting character, 29-year old football referee Stefan Apostolov.

Experts have also noted that Bulgaria’s 44th Parliament has the lowest number of legal experts in history, only 27.

One is the controversial businessman and media mogul Delyan Peevski, who will serve a fourthg mandate as an MP, although his nomination as chief of the national security service in 2013 sparked Bulgaria’s largest street protests in nearly a decade.

During their first session on Wednesday, MPs elected Dimitar Glavchev from GERB as President of the Parliament, and five vice-presidents from each of the five parties represented in the assembly: GERB, the BSP, the nationalistic United Patriots coalition, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and the Volya party led by the populist businessman Veselin Mareshki.

The parliament is expected to vote in a new coalition government led by GERB and the United Patriots by May 4.




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