Bulgaria’s beleaguered Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced on August 11 that his party will initiate a request for a Grand National Assembly that would make constitutional changes, and resign as soon as the request has been accepted by the parliament.
Borissov made the announcement after more than a month of mass anti-government protests, in which hundreds of thousands of people demanded the resignation of his government.
Among the key changes outlined by the prime minister are a proposal to cut the number of MPs by half to just 120, a statement from Borissov published on the government’s website says. The number of MPs in the Grand National Assembly would also be cut from 400 to 280.
He also talked of changes to make the judiciary more accountable, including regular parliamentary hearings for the chief prosecutor.
The Supreme Judicial Council would be replaced with a Judicial Council of Judges and a Judicial Council of Prosecutors, to deal separately with personnel issues related to judges on the one hand, and prosecutors and investigators on the other.
Along with the resignation of Borissov and his cabinet, the protesters have been pushing for chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev – whose appointment last year sparked strong opposition – to stand down.
Previous attempts to ease the situation, including with a government reshuffle, failed to stop the protests.
In addition to gathering in Sofia and other Bulgarian cities, protesters have also blocked major roads and bridges.
In his address on August 14, Borissov talked of a “daily escalation of huge political tensions” that has been “extremely dangerous for democracy”, and acknowledged a “deep desire for change” on the part of many Bulgarians.
However, he also voiced strong criticism of the protesters and their supporters for attacks on public property and “attempts at bloody excesses”, and claimed the protests had been influenced by the oligarchy and the underworld.
He slammed President Rumen Radev, a vocal supporter of the protests, saying: “The president has abandoned his primary role as a unifier of the nation. In his desire to be a political leader, he deliberately fuelled tensions between the institutions, to the point of pitting Bulgarian citizens against Bulgarian citizens. He divided society, waved his fist, and set fire to the destructive power of opposition.”