Bulgaria

I - Political context

Political Context

I.1

What is the political context of the Eurozone crisis period in Bulgaria? Have there been changes in government, elections, referenda or other major political events during the period of 2008-present?

The political context in Bulgaria since 2008 has seen many changes. While in the beginning of the Euro crisis the political situation was relatively stable, since the beginning of 2013 it has been very volatile. It has involved the resignation of two Governments and the respective appointment of two Caretaker Governments,[1] two minority Governments, a recent bank crisis and raging protests for the bigger part of this, less than biannual, period.   

Period of stability

The 40th National Assembly was elected on 25 June 2005 and its mandate ended on 25 June 2009. The 86th Government was formed on the basis of a three-party coalition between the three biggest parliamentary groups represented in the 40th National Assembly. These were, out of 240, (1) Coalition for Bulgaria[2] with 82; (2) National Movement Simeon the Second (known by its Bulgarian abbreviation – NDSV)[3] with 53; (3) Movement for Rights and Freedoms (known by its Bulgarian abbreviation – DPS)[4] with 34. The 86th Government governed Bulgaria from 17 August 2005 till 27 July 2009 with Sergei Stanishev as Prime Minister. Sergei Stanishev was the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which was the biggest and predominant party in the Coalition for Bulgaria.[5] For now, he is also the President of the Party of European Socialist (PES). 

The 41st National Assembly was elected on 5 July 2009 and it was dissolved on 14 March 2013. The 87th Government was a minority Government formed by Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria (known by its Bulgarian abbreviation – GERB).[6] GERB obtained 117 seats in the National Assembly and needed further parliamentary support in order to form the Government. GERB found such initial support in three small parties ATAKA,[7] the Blue Coalition and Order Law and Justice[8] (known by its Bulgarian abbreviation – RZS), which were against the parties that were part of the three-party coalition, which hitherto governed Bulgaria. With the vote in the National Assembly on 27 July 2009 the 87th Government with GERB’s leader – Boyko Borissov – as Prime Minster started governing Bulgaria. In the autumn of 2011 the Presidential and local elections took place together. The first ballot for both took place on 23 October and the second on 30 October. The Presidential elections were won by Rosen Plevneliev who was supported by GERB. These elections were challenged by the opposition (Coalition for Bulgaria), which was held by one of the Bulgarian MEPs to be unprecedented in Bulgaria’s history since the democratic changes.[9] The Bulgarian Constitutional Court (BCC) admitted the case but eventually did not annul the elections.[10] GERB was also very successful during the local elections. As it can be seen from the answer to Question III.2, these elections played an important role in the discussions of the proposed constitutional amendment.

The beginning of the instability

The political situation was stable during the biggest part of the mandate of the Borissov Government. However, in the end of 2012 certain level of public discontent turned into sporadic protests. In the beginning of 2013 the protests unified around the discontent against the monopoles of the electricity distributers and the high energy prices, later evolving into protests against the Government’s policies in general. A few people even set themselves on fire, which some parts of the public saw as connected to the protests. Amidst the protests, on 27 January 2013 a referendum, which was politically initiated by Sergei Stanishev, took place with a question that read “Should nuclear power in Bulgaria be developed through the building of a new power plant?”. While the results were 60.6% ‘yes’ and 37.9% ‘no’ (the rest to 100% were void bulletins), the referendum failed due to low turnout.[11] These protests eventually led to the resignation of Boyko Borissov on 21 February 2013, a few months before the end of the four-year mandate.[12] His Government stayed in power until 13 March 2013 when, after all major parties declined to try to form a Government, a Caretaker Government was appointed by the President.[13]

The 42nd National Assembly was elected on 12 May 2013 and was also prematurely dissolved on 6 August 2014 by the President.[14] Despite the protests and the resignation that followed in February, GERB won the elections with 30.5%, followed closely by Coalition for Bulgaria with 26.6%.[15] The third and the fourth in the elections were DPS with 11.3% and ATAKA with 7.2%. The turnout was a record low for National Assembly elections – just 51.33%.[16] These elections were also challenged. Interestingly, the elections were challenged by the national representatives from GERB – the party that won the elections.[17] The BCC again did not annul the elections.[18] Eventually, the mandate of the Caretaker Government was ended with the formation of the 89th Government on 29 May 2013. The 89th Government was formed by Coalition for Bulgaria and DPS, which together had 120 national representatives (exactly half of the total 240). On 29 May it was Volen Siderov (ATAKA’s leader) who registered in order to provide the quorum for the Government to be formed, which created much controversy.[19] While Volen Siderov stated that his party will not support this Government, the national representatives of GERB accused ATAKA of participating in a covert three-party coalition. The accusations were based on the fact that registering to secure quorum and then not voting against the, formally, two-party coalition, ATAKA de facto allowed for the new Government to be formed.[20] This highly controversial start of the new Government brought up many legitimacy concerns[21] and accusations of backdoor dealings.

Increased instability and continuous protests

On 28 May 2013 – a day before the formation of the 89th Government, the leaders of Coalition for Bulgaria and DPS submitted a draft law to the National Assembly for the amendment of the Law on the State Agency for National Security (known by its Bulgarian abbreviation – DANS). One of the proposed amendments was to strip the President from his (not constitutional) power to appoint the President of that Agency on a proposal from the Council of Ministers and to give that power to the National Assembly after a proposal of the Prime Minister. The draft law was quickly adopted on 7 June 2013 and in accordance with its last provision it was to enter into force on the day of its promulgation in the State Gazette (SG). The Law was promulgated on 14 June 2013.[22] On 14 June 2013 the plenary session of the National Assembly started in its very beginning with a request to include in its agenda a proposal by the Prime Minister – Plamen Oresharski – on the President of DANS. It was approved and the session started with proposal by the Prime Minister. His first words were that on the basis of Article 8(1) of the abovementioned law he was proposing Delyan Peevski (DPS). The National Assembly adopted a Decision shortly after the proposal with which it appointed Mr Peevski as a President of DANS.[23] 

Due to the background of Mr Peevski, his appointment quickly created unprecedented outburst in the society and was held by some to have been the beginning of the end of the Oresharski Government. In a matter of hours thousands of people went on the streets in protests against the appointment, which caught the attention of the international media.[24] The enormous outcry against the appointment led to a statement by Mr Peevski on the very next day, expressing his willingness to step down. On 19 June 2013 the National Assembly with a first point in the agenda adopted a Decision repealing its Decision from 14 June.[25] Lyutvi Mestan (DPS), who presented the annulment Decision stated, with respect to the explanations of the annulment Decision, that

“The politically responsible reading of the situation requires as an obvious necessity that the Decision of 14 June 2013 for the election of the President of DANS to be urgently annulled in order to give the Prime Minister an opportunity to propose a new President of DANS which after the necessary consultations to be discussed and adopted in accordance with the applicable parliamentary procedure.”[26]

However, the protests were gathering force and the protesters were not satisfied with this reversal and started asking for the resignation of the Government, less than a month after it was formed.[27] This appointment and its swift reversal led also to wave of constitutional litigation on the status of Mr Peevski as a national representative considering the failed appointment.[28] This litigation eventually ended on 14 January 2014 with the BCC upholding the status of Mr Peevski as a national representative.[29] After its first, largely unpopular, Decision in these cases the BCC was demoralised when it was mockingly put for sale on Ebay.[30] After 140 days of protests, further impetus was given to them in the autumn of 2013 when, following the BCC Decision in one of the Peevski cases, the students of the Sofia University occupied the main lecture hall during a lecture of one of the BCC judges, which led to a months-long occupation of the whole University.[31] The protests have been widely covered in the media and this Report will not go in further detail. Since the political situation was hugely affected by these protests it was necessary to give this overview, which does not claim to be exhaustive and to necessarily be giving the complete picture. Thus, this author invites the reader to further examine the situation in order to fully comprehend the situation.

In times of continuing, but much less active, protests, another important turning point during the 89th Government came about – the European Parliament elections. In December 2013 Lyutvi Mestan (DPS) saw the forthcoming European Parliament elections as an opportunity for the Government to show that it has legitimacy.[32] The elections took place on 25 May 2014 and were again won by GERB with 30.4%, followed by Coalition for Bulgaria with 18.9%, DPS with 17.2%, the newly formed (and soon after dissolved) coalition of Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC) with 10% and another newly formed coalition – the Reformist Bloc, with 6.4% (see infra an introduction of the last two).[33] These results fuelled even more the feeling of illegitimacy among the general public with respect to the Government in power and gave further impetus to the continuing, for almost a year at that time, protests.[34] The legality of the elections was challenged before the BCC, as it was the case in the previous two National Assembly and Presidential elections. The BCC this time rejected the request for declaring the elections unlawful, citing lack of powers to do this with respect to the whole of the European Parliament elections in Bulgaria.[35] The BCC considered itself having the power to declare unlawful only the election of particular MEPs but not the elections as a whole due to the provisions of the Elections Code.[36]

The banking crisis

Yet another crucial issue that destabilised the political situation in Bulgaria was the 2014 banking crisis. Before giving a short overview of the banking crisis, it is worth quoting one statement, made about three years before the crisis, by Qnaki Stoilov (Coalition for Bulgaria) during the 15 June 2011 discussions in the National Assembly on the amendments of the Law for the Planning of the State Budget (LPSB). Mr Stoilov stated: 

“While here it is being talked about the stability of the banking system in Bulgaria, I would like to focus your attention to one risk. I am not going to discuss anything concrete because this is a sensitive matter and we should not create disturbances in it. Let a report be made and you ask for it Mr [Finance] Minister from the management of the Bulgarian National Bank, on how many of the commercial banks in Bulgaria dare to credit their own enterprises, that is, the same people participating in the ownership and the management of the commercial banks to collect resources from the public and then invest them in their own enterprises. I could not call this in any other way than draining of the financial capital for corporate and self-serving goals. If these are going to be the fundamentals of this stability [that the LPSB is trying to ensure] they can come out to be very shaky.”

The crisis started with an alleged assassination attempt against Delyan Peevski in the beginning of June 2014, which was rumoured to be ordered by the majority shareholder of Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) – Tsvetan Vasilev.[37] The Prosecution Office in Bulgaria responded with searches in different corporate enterprises, including CCB’s office building.[38] However, it was not clear whether or not these searches were connected with a signal made to the Prosecution Office in the beginning of 2014 by activists from “Protest Network” concerning alleged illegal activities of financial nature of Delyan Peevski, Tsvetan Vasilev and Nikolai Barekov – BWC’s initial leader.[39] In the public space rumours followed that Mr Peevski was removing large amounts of his own funds from CCB.[40] A bank run followed, which enormously damaged the liquidity of CCB and another, recently acquired by CCB, bank.[41] Soon after this, the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) announced nationalisation of CCB and its recent acquisition, suspended operations at both and stated that it will recapitalise it out of the deposit guarantee fund.[42]

The crisis deepened when a bank run on another, unrelated to CCB, bank – First Investment Bank (FIB) took place on 27 June 2014, which led the President of Bulgaria to make a public statement saying to the depositors that their funds were safe.[43] The president also announced that the National Assembly was planned to be dissolved in late July and that new elections were to take place in the beginning of October. The bank run on FIB later became clear to have been separately plotted to deliberately destabilise the banking system by using e-mails and SMSes.[44] The plot did not completely succeed and FIB’s situation quickly stabilised a few days later and depositors’ trust was regained.[45] Support for this was also given by the favourable position of the Commission on the credit line for the banking system.[46]

The situation with CCB, unfortunately, worsened. An audit of the CCB by the BNB found credit records missing for more than €1.7 billion (while CCB’s credits in total amounted to €2.7 billion).[47] According to BNB, the credit records that were missing were relating to debtors in close relationship with Tsvetan Vasilev.[48] This shows the relevance of the statement of Qnaki Stoilov that was quoted above. Even more, in the day before CCB was put under special supervision, more than €100 million were drained in cash, allegedly, under the command of Mr Vasilev.[49] At certain point Mr Vasilev was also put on Interpol’s list.[50] At the moment Mr Vasilev is in Serbia and court proceedings for his extradition are undergoing.[51] On 12 March 2015, during a visit of the Bulgarian President in Serbia, the Serbian President, in answering a question on his relationship with Mr Vasilev, while saying that Mr Vasilev was not friend of his did say that his investments in Serbia were excellent.[52]

For Bulgaria, covering the costs over CCB meant increasing its sovereign debt, which also increased its budgetary deficit from about 1.8% to almost 3%.[53] With this the budget also had to be updated, which furthered the political spats.[54] Eventually, the BNB put CCB in insolvency proceedings. This short overview shows how controversial and politically relevant this banking crisis really was and still is. Further detail on this point will be spared for now. It must be noted, however, that the CCB issue and the recovery of the deposits was decided to be a political question and was left to be solved for after the elections.

Eventually, with the decline in the, initially low, public support for the Government and the retraction by DPS of its political support[55] the Prime Minister was forced to submit his resignation and he did so on 23 July 2014.[56] The resignation was accepted by the National Assembly the next day with 180 votes in favour and 8 against.[57] The President dissolved the National Assembly and appointed a Caretaker Government on 6 August 2014.[58] This Caretaker Government had as a Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki – a former senior member of the BSP up until earlier that year, when he was expelled from the party for openly supporting the anti-Government student-occupation protests.[59]  

The transformation of the political parties and coalitions

This political situation, leading to the elections for the 43rd National Assembly, also caused a major rearrangement and restructuring of the political background, where new parties and coalitions appeared on their own, other parties appeared after splitting form already existing ones and others went through a leadership change. All of these changes can probably be the object of separate political science research project and cannot be examined in detail here. However, a very basic overview will be provided here as it is needed to understand the election results for the 43rd National Assembly and the political developments that followed.

 

A little earlier, in the beginning of 2013 an attempted assassination (that later seemed to be just a hoax[60]) of DPS’s leader – Ahmed Dogan, happened right before his resignation from the leadership position and his nomination of Lyutvi Mestan as his successor.[61] Later in 2013, one of the new coalitions was formed – the Reformist Bloc. It was cofounded by Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, the Union of Democratic Forces (both of which formed the core of the former Blue Coalition), Bulgaria for Citizens (led by Meglena Kuneva[62]), as well as the Freedom and Dignity People’s Party (led by Kasim Dal[63]), and the Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union.[64] Another new party which also created a coalition was BWC.[65] It made a coalition with three small parties[66] and together they got two MEP places. Soon after the European Parliament elections the coalition dissolved. In preparation for the new elections BWC entered in another coalition with LIDER (a small party that has existed since 2007 but never had elected representatives).[67] Another new coalition was formed in August 2014 – the Patriotic Front. It combined the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB)[68] and VMRO, one of the earlier coalition partners of BWC.[69]

Yet another new party that was created in the meantime, in January 2014, was Alternative for Bulgarian Renaissance (known by its Bulgarian abbreviation – ABV).[70] ABV is a reanimated project from 2010 of the former President – Georgi Parvanov (2001-2012) leader of BSP until he stepped in office.[71] The new party was created in anticipation of the European Parliament elections and attracted major figures from the BSP, leading to its major political split.[72] These recent developments for the BSP reflected heavily on its leader Sergei Stanishev who eventually stepped down from the leadership position on 27 July 2014 when Mihail Mikov was chosen as the new leader.[73] With the change in leadership, the coalition in which BSP hitherto participated also changed its name. From Coalition for Bulgaria it became BSP – left Bulgaria. Not long after this leadership change, Mr Stanishev’s leadership position in PES also came under attack.[74] With this major political reshuffle for a relative small amount of time Bulgaria prepared for a new round of National Assembly elections. 

Towards relative (in)stability

The 43rd National Assembly was elected on 5 October 2014. The election was won by GERB with 32.7%, followed by BSP with 15.4%, DPS with 14.8%, the Reformist Bloc with 8.9%, Patriotic Front with 7.3%, BWC with 5.7%, ATAKA with 4.5%, and ABV with 4.15%.[75] The lack of majority for any one party led to long and difficult negotiations, which culminated in the formation of a coalition Government on 7 November 2014. The 91st Government was formally formed by GERB and the Reformist Bloc with the parliamentary support of ABV and the Patriotic Front.[76]

Since the formation of the 91st Government the political situation achieved some balance but it is still by far not stable. Some of the main issues, relevant for this Report, that have frequented the public discussion have been (1) the continuous CCB crisis, (2) the diversification of the gas supplies, and (3) accruing new sovereign debt of 16 billion leva (about €8 billion).

The CCB crisis saw new developments from the European Union (EU) level. In particular, the Commission (1) found Bulgaria to be “in a situation of excessive imbalances requiring decisive policy action and specific monitoring”,[77] largely due to the CCB situation and (2) initiated infringement proceedings[78] against Bulgaria. The infringement proceedings relate to the way Bulgaria handled the CCB guaranteed deposits. In particular, the Commission brought proceedings for a failure to correctly transpose the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive and a violation of the free movement of capital under Article 63 TFEU. This has put even further pressure for the swift solution of the CCB crisis. CCB is currently in insolvency proceedings but a liquidator is not yet appointed due to appeals by the shareholders of CCB against the Decision to revoke CCB’s licence.[79]  On 11 March 2015 Prime Minister Borissov warned that CCB’s property is being plundered and said to the National Assembly that the Government will make a proposal for such a liquidator.[80] With respect to the economic impact of CCB on the Bulgarian budget, it must be noted that the budget deficit for 2014 ended up rocketed as high as 3.7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (almost 2% increase since before the beginning of the crisis).[81]

With respect to the gas supplies the political developments have been closely related to the Ukraine crisis and have evolved around the status (and possible revival) of South Stream,[82] Nabuko[83] and other pipeline projects going through Turkey.[84] The insecurity created around these projects weighs heavily on the political situation in Bulgaria because of the full dependence on Russian gas, on the one hand, and the economic importance of these projects for Bulgaria in terms of transition fees, on the other hand. In light of the banking crisis such questions have become even more politically charged.

Most recently the National Assembly approved the accruing of new sovereign debt amounting to 16 billion leva (about €8 billion).[85] The debates for this debt sparked a lot of controversies and its approval by the National Assembly was not certain up until the actual vote. The controversies evolved mainly around the amount of the debt and if it really was necessary to be as big. The stakes were very high with respect to the debt because the Prime Minister suggested a possible resignation of the Government if it was not approved by the National Assembly.[86] The debt also got the support of the President.[87]

Since the elections for the 43rd National Assembly, some of the newly formed parties also went through leadership changes. BWC went through structural changes including a change in its name (to Bulgarian Democratic Centre) and its leadership.[88] Also, the leadership of ABV fell into uncertainty when its leader – Georgi Purvanov resigned as a sign of protest against the support of ABV’s national representatives for the new sovereign debt.[89] However, he will remain the leader at least until 25 April 2015 when ABV’s national council will convene. Last but not least, on 9 March the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs unanimously decided to recommend to the European Parliament to waive the parliamentary immunity of Sergei Stanishev, in light of the request by the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Bulgaria on 24 November 2014.[90]

[1] Caretaker Government is a term of art for Governments of temporary nature which are appointed once the ruling one is dissolved until the new one is formed following elections. See in general P Schleiter and V Belu, ‘The Challenge of Periods of Caretaker Government in the UK’ (2014) Parliamentary Affairs doi: 10.1093/pa/gsu027 First published online: December 19, 2014.

[2] Coalition for Bulgaria was a coalition of leftist parties concentrated around the Bulgarian Socialist Party. The parties in Coalition for Bulgaria have changed over the years. Coalition for Bulgaria was replaced by “BSP – left Bulgaria” since the National Assembly elections in 2014.

[3] Later renamed National Movement for Stability and Progress. See B Cholova and JM De Waele, ‘Populism in Bulgaria: The Politics of Resentment’ (2014) 38 Southeastern Europe 56, 62-63.

[4] For further reading see B Stefanova, ‘Between ethnopolitics and liberal centrism: the Movement for Rights and Freedoms in the mainstream of Bulgarian party politics’ (2012) 40 Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity 767.

[5] For further reading see M Spirova, ‘The Bulgarian Socialist Party: The long road to Europe’ (2008) 41 Communist and Post-Communist Studies 481.

[6] Y Georgiev and M Trifonova, ‘Bulgaria’ in K Vida (ed) Strategic Issues for the EU10 Countries: Main Positions and Implications for EU Policy-making (Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Budapest 2012) 5.

[7] ATAKA is considered by some as extreme right or even ultranationalist. See for extreme right – S Katsikas, Negotiating Diplomacy in the New Europe: Foreign Policy in Post-Communist Bulgaria (I.B Tauris, London 2011) 64; M Meznik and T Thieme, ‘Against all Expectations: Right-Wing Extremism in Romania and Bulgaria’ in U Backes and P Moreau (eds) The Extreme Right in Europe: Current Trends and Perspectives (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012) 205–207. See for ultranationalist – J Bugajski, ‘Bulgaria: Progress and Development’ in S Wolchik and J L Curry (eds) Central and East European Politics: From Communism to Democracy (2nd ed, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham 2011) 262

[8] RZS initially formed a parliamentary group but on 9 December 2009 it was dissolved after one of its members left it and its membership fell below the 10-members threshold. Its members continued their work as independent national representatives. Г Моева, 9 декември 2009, Парламентарната група на РЗС престана да съществува <http://dariknews.bg/view_article.php?article_id=447744> accessed 14 March 2015.

[9] Statement of Iliana Malinova Iotova on 14 November 2011 <http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+CRE+20111114+ITEM-018+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=HR> accessed 14 March 2015.

[10] Decision № 12 of 13 December 2011 in Case № 11 of 2011, SG 99 of 16 December 2011.

[11] 27 January 2013, Bulgaria nuclear vote ‘invalidated by low turnout’ <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-21217882> accessed 14 March 2015.

[12] Published 20 February2013 – 08:56, Updated 20 February 2013 – 15:46, Bulgarian prime minister quits following mass protests over electricity bills <http://www.euractiv.com/energy/bulgarian-prime-minister-resigns-news-517946> accessed 14 March 2015.

[13] Presidential Decree № 56 of 13 March 2013, SG 25 of 13 March 2013.

[14] Presidential Decree № 201 of 5 August 2014, SG 65 of 6 August 2014.

[15] See B Cholova and JM De Waele, ‘Populism in Bulgaria: The Politics of Resentment’ (2014) 38 Southeastern Europe 56, 65.

[16] Обобщена активност на гласуване за страната към 21:00 ч. <http://results.cik.bg/pi2013/aktivnost/> accessed 14 March 2015.

[17] Thursday 16 May 2013, Bulgaria’s election results disputed <http://www.enca.com/world/bulgarias-ex-premier-challenge-election-result> accessed 14 March 2015.

[18] Decision № 5 of 9 July 2013 in Case № 13 of 2013, SG 63 of 16 July 2013.

[19] National Assembly, Stenographic record of the 4th meeting, 29 May 2013.

[20] It must be noted that Volen Siderov, himself, voted ‘against’ in the actual vote for the formation of the Government. However, he was the only one to vote from ATAKA. The voting inactivity of the other national representatives took the form of passive support, instead of the active opposition that was proclaimed.

[21] E.g. ПИК, 9 September 2013, Левият Георги Близнашки: Кабинетът управлява без легитимност и кауза <pik.bg/левият-георги-близнашки-кабинетът-управлява-без-легитимност-и-кауза-news99276.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[22] Law for amending the Law on the State Agency for National Security, SG 52 of 14 June 2013, 3.

[23] National Assembly, Decision for the election of a President of State Agency for National Security of 14 June 2013 (it did not get to be promulgated in the SG).

[24] Tsvetelia Tsolova, 14 June 2013, Bulgarians protests over media magnate as security chief <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/14/us-bulgaria-government-idUSBRE95D0ML20130614> accessed 14 March 2015.

[25] National Assembly, Decision for annulment of the Decision for the election of a President of State Agency for National Security of 14 June 2013 of 19 June 2013, SG 54 of 21 June 2013, 2.

[26] National Assembly, Stenographic record of the 13th meeting, 19 June 2013.

[27] V Ganev, 3 October 2013, The Summer of Bulgarian Discontent <http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/critcom/the-summer-of-bulgarian-discontent/> accessed 14 March 2015.

[28] Decision № 7 of 8 October 2013 in Case № 16 of 2013, SG 89 of 11 October 2013; Decision № 14 of 18 December 2013 in Case № 17 of 2013, SG 1 of 3 January 2014; Determination № 1 of 14 January 2014 in Case № 21 of 2013, SG        7 of 24 January 2014.

[29] Правен свят, 14 January 2014, КС прие за недопустимо искането на президента по решението за отмяна избора на Пеевски <http://legalworld.bg/34010.kspriezanedopustimoiskanetonaprezidentaporeshenietozaotmianaizboranapeevski.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[30] D Cohen, 12 November 2013, For Sale: Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court <http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/11/12/bulgarias-constitutional-court-is-for-sale-amid-a-sea-of-corruption> accessed 14 March 2015.

[31] G K, 31 October 2013, Students on the barricades <http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2013/10/bulgaria> accessed 14 March 2015.

[32] 21 December 2013, Местан: Евроизборите ще покажат легитимността на правителството <http://novinite.bg/articles/59395/MestanEvroizboriteshtepokajatlegitimnosttanapravitelstvoto#sthash.7tXLB6vg.dpuf> accessed 14 March 2015.

[33] These are the figures only for the parties and coalitions that actually won seats in the EP. Резултати от избори за Европейски парламент 25.05.2014 г. за страната <http://results.cik.bg/ep2014/rezultati/index.html > accessed 14 March 2015.

[34] 28 May 2014, Нов протест пред парламента <http://bnt.bg/news/obshtestvo/novprotestpredparlamenta> accessed 14 March 2015.

[35] Determination № 3 of 17 July 2014 in Case No 11 of 2014, SG 61 of 25 June 2014.

[36] For further discussion on the BCC’s powers on that point see M Vatsov, European integration through preliminary rulings? The case of the Bulgarian  Constitutional Court, German Law Journal (Special Issue

on ‘The preliminary reference to the Court of Justice by Constitutional Courts’ M Dicosola, C Fasone & I Spigno (eds) forthcoming).

[37] Б Митов, 13 June 2014, Трима души са обвинени за готвено убийство на Пеевски <http://www.mediapool.bg/trimadushisaobvinenizagotvenoubiystvonapeevskinews221460.html > accessed 14 March 2015.

[38] Ibid.

[39] 25 February, Активисти на “Протестна мрежа” внесоха сигнал срещу “Пеевски-Василев-Бареков” <http://www.capital.bg/politika_i_ikonomika/bulgaria/2014/02/25/2249408_aktivisti_na_protestna_mreja_vnesoha_signal_sreshtu/ > accessed 14 March 2015.

[40] F Coppola, 30 June 2014, What On Earth Is Going On In Bulgaria? <http://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2014/06/30/what-on-earth-is-going-on-in-bulgaria/> accessed 14 March 2015.

[41] Ibid.

[42] K Hope, 22 June 2014, Bulgaria rushes to nationalise politically-connected bank <http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cf0ed87a-fa2b-11e3-a328-00144feab7de.html#axzz3U1s9w3HB> accessed 14 March 2015.

[43] E Konstantinova, 29 June 2014, Bulgaria Has Resources to Stop Run on Banks, President Says <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-06-29/bulgaria-arrests-two-men-amid-efforts-to-stop-run-on-banks> accessed 14 March 2015.

[44] G K, 1 July 2014, Why the run on banks? <http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2014/07/bulgaria> accessed 14 March 2015.

[45] K Hope, M Arnold and N Buckley, 30 June 2014, Fears of Bulgarian financial crisis ease with central bank action <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/eb671570-004b-11e4-a3f2-00144feab7de.html#axzz3U1s9w3HB> accessed 14 March 2015.

[46] G Jones, 30 June 2014, EU approves Bulgaria credit line for banking system <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/30/bulgaria-crisis-eu-idUSL6N0PB14Z20140630?feedType=RSS> accessed 14 March 2015.

[47] E Konstantinova and B Groendahl, 15 July 2014, Bulgaria Asks ECB to Supervise Banks as Crisis Festers <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-15/bulgaria-asks-ecb-to-supervise-banks-as-crisis-festers> accessed 14 March 2015.

[48] 12 July 2014, Цветан Василев откраднал 3,5 млрд. лв. от КТБ <http://www.monitor.bg/article?id=435586> accessed 14 March 2015.

[49] Ibid.

[50] 12 August 2014, KTB Majority Owner Tsvetan Vasilev Indicted, Sought through Interpol <http://www.novinite.com/articles/162679/KTB+Majority+Owner+Tsvetan+Vasilev+Indicted,+Sought+through+Interpol> accessed 14 March 2015.

[51] A Vasovic and T Tsolova, 11 March 2015, Serbian court overturns extradition for Bulgarian fugitive businessman <http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/03/11/uk-serbia-bulgaria-corpbank-idUKKBN0M71V920150311> accessed 14 March 2015.

[52] 13 March 2015, Tsvetan Vasilev is no friend of mine: Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic <http://www.focus-fen.net/news/2015/03/13/365989/tsvetan-vasilev-is-no-friend-of-mine-serbian-president-tomislav-nikolic.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[53] Л Границка, 16 July 2014, Нов държавен заем ще решава проблемите в КТБ <http://www.mediapool.bg/novdarzhavenzaemshtereshavaproblemitevktbnews222706.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[54] Ibid.

[55] 5 June 2014, Bulgarian Co-ruling Party DPS Calls for Early Elections by end-2014 <http://www.novinite.com/articles/161086/Bulgarian+Co-ruling+Party+DPS+Calls+for+Early+Elections+by+end-2014> accessed 14 March 2015.

[56] Published 24 July 2014 – 10:05, Updated  8 January 2015 – 15:45, Bulgarian government resigns without nominating a Commissioner <http://www.euractiv.com/sections/eu-elections-2014/bulgarian-government-resigns-without-nominating-commissioner-303687> accessed 14 March 2015.

[57] 24 July 2014, National Assembly accepts resignation of Plamen Oresharski’s Government with 180 “yes” and 8 “against” votes <http://www.parliament.bg/en/news/ID/3221> accessed 14 March 2015.

[58] Presidential Decree № 200 of 5 August 2014, SG 65 of 6 August 2014.

[59] T Tsolova and M Williams, Troubled Bulgaria names law professor as interim prime minister <http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/troubled-bulgaria-names-law-professor-as-interim-prime-minister-1.1888281> accessed 14 March 2015.

[60] T Brady, 21 January 2013, Was ‘assassination’ attempt on Bulgarian politician a hoax? Gunman used gas pistol loaded with pepper spray that would not have killed opposition leader <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265805/Ahmed-Dogan-Was-assassination-attempt-Bulgarian-politician-hoax.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[61] 19 January 2013, Bulgaria’s Ethnic Turkish Leader Resigns after Surviving Attempt on His Life <http://www.novinite.com/articles/147011/Bulgaria’s+Ethnic+Turkish+Leader+Resigns+after+Surviving+Attempt+on+His+Life> accessed 14 March 2015.

[62] Meglena Kuneva was a founding member of NDSV and after it came to power became a Chief Negotiator of Bulgaria with the EU. Later-on she became the Minister of European Affairs in Bulgaria until she was appointed Bulgaria’s first Commissioner at the EU.

[63] Kasim Dal was considered second in rank in DPS, which he co-founded with Ahmed Dogan. In January 2011, however, after blaming Ahmed Dogan for the decline of the party he left the party. 18 February 2011, Bulgaria’s Ethnic Turkish Party DPS Expels Dissenter <http://www.novinite.com/articles/125419/Bulgaria’s+Ethnic+Turkish+Party+DPS+Expels+Dissenter> accessed 14 March 2015.

[64] 20 December 2013, Bulgarian Rightists Seal Reformist Bloc Coalition <http://www.novinite.com/articles/156583/Bulgarian+Rightists+Seal+Reformist+Bloc+Coalition> accessed 14 March 2015.

[65] G K, 4 May 2014, A controversial newcomer could be kingmaker <http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2014/03/bulgaria> accessed 14 March 2015.

[66] VMRO- Bulgarian National Movement, the Agrarian National Union (not the same as the one forming part of the Reformist Bloc) and Movement “Gergiovden”.

[67] 18 August 2014, Bulgaria without Censorship Strikes Alliance with Lider Party <http://www.novinite.com/articles/162782> accessed 14 March 2015.

[68] NFSB was formed in May 2011 after its founder – the owner of SKAT TV station – separated from ATAKA. SKAT TV was used by the leader of ATAKA – Volen Siderov – to gain popularity with his TV show, also called ATAKA, and then join the political scene.

[69] 3 August 2014, Two Bulgarian Nationalist Parties Team Up for Early Elections <http://www.novinite.com/articles/162454/Two+Bulgarian+Nationalist+Parties+Team+Up+for+Early+Elections> accessed 14 March 2015.

[70] 12 January 2014, Bulgaria’s Ex-President Revives Leftist ABV Movement <http://www.novinite.com/articles/157170/Bulgaria’s+Ex-President+Revives+Leftist+ABV+Movement> accessed 14 March 2015.

[71] V Zhelev, 8 November 2010, Bulgarian president sets up new political group <https://euobserver.com/news/31220> accessed 14 March 2015.

[72] Published 14 January 2014 – 08:57,| Updated 08 January 2015 – 15:53, Influential MEP splits Bulgarian Socialist Party before EU election <http://www.euractiv.com/eu-elections-2014/prominent-mep-splits-bulgarian-s-news-532728> accessed 14 March 2015.

[73] A Krasimirov, 27 July 2014, Bulgaria’s Socialists pick new leader as election looms <http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/07/27/uk-bulgaria-socialists-idUKKBN0FW0PS20140727> accessed 14 March 2015.

[74] Published 26 September 2014 – 08:15, Updated 8  January 2015 – 15:45, PES to hold congress and seek successor to Stanishev <http://www.euractiv.com/sections/eu-elections-2014/pes-hold-congress-and-seek-successor-stanishev-308723> accessed 14 March 2015.

[75] Резултати от избори за народни представители 05.10.2014 г. за страната <http://results.cik.bg/pi2014/rezultati/index.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[76] Published: 07 November 2014 – 07:57, Updated: 08 January 2015 – 15:13, Bulgarian parties approve coalition agreement, cabinet <http://www.euractiv.com/sections/elections/bulgarian-parties-agree-coalition-agreement-cabinet-309849> accessed 14 March 2015.

[77] European Commission, Communication, 2015 European Semester: Assessment of growth challenges, prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances, and results of in-depth reviews under Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, SWD(2015) 20 final to SWD(2015) 47 final, 26 February 2014, 14.

[78] European Commission, Press Release IP/14/1041, Bulgaria must allow bank customers to access their money, 25 September 2014 <http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-1041_bg.htm> accessed 14 March 2015.

[79] For a short appraisal by the Commission of the banking crisis see European Commission, Country Report Bulgaria 2015: Including an In-Depth Review on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances SWD(2015) 22 final, 26 February 2015, 17.

[80] 11 March 2015, Bulgaria PM: We will propose liquidator for CorpBank today <http://www.focus-fen.net/news/2015/03/11/365819/bulgaria-pm-we-will-propose-liquidator-for-corpbank-today.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[81] 31 December 2014, 2014 Budget Deficit Projected at 3.7% of GDP <http://www.bta.bg/en/c/DF/id/984333> accessed 14 March 2015.

[82] 3 December 2014, Sinking of South Stream gives Brussels a headache <http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/sinking-south-stream-gives-brussels-headache-310529> accessed 14 March 2015.

[83] 5 March 2015, Bulgaria wants to revive Nabucco, Azerbaijan says pipeline name ‘not important’ <http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/bulgaria-wants-revive-nabucco-azerbaijan-says-pipeline-name-not-important-312645> accessed 14 March 2015.

[84] 11 March 2015, Political concerns mar Turkish Stream project <http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/political-concerns-mar-turkish-stream-project-312815> accessed 14 March 2015.

[85] S Okov, 25 February 2015, Bulgarian lawmakers back 8 billion-euro bond sale plan <http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-news-bc-bulgaria25-20150225-story.html> accessed 14 March 2015.

[86] A Krasimirov and T Tsolova, Bulgaria approves 8 billion euro overseas borrowing plan <http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-bulgaria-debt-idUSKBN0LT18R20150225> accessed 14 March 2015.

[87] 23 February 2015, Bulgarian President Supports Government Proposal for BGN 16 B Debt <http://www.novinite.com/articles/166729/Bulgarian+President+Supports+Government+Proposal+for+BGN+16+B+Debt> accessed 14 March 2015.

[88] Sofia Globe, 22 December 2014, Barekov resigns as leader of ‘Bulgaria Without Censorship’ coalition <http://sofiaglobe.com/2014/12/22/barekov-resigns-as-leader-of-bulgaria-without-censorship-coalition/> accessed 14 March 2015.

[89] 6 March 2015, Bulgaria’s ABV Accepts Resignation of Leader Georgi Parvanov <http://www.novinite.com/articles/167038/Bulgaria’s+ABV+Accepts+Resignation+of+Leader+Georgi+Parvanov> accessed 14 March 2015.

[90] Committee on Legal Affairs, Report on the request for waiver of the immunity of Sergei Stanishev of 9 March 2015 (2014/2259(IMM)).