(are they needed and if so, what should they be)

Calls for a change to the Constitution

Each of the regular political crises which have shaken the foundations of Bulgaria to one degree or another have always contained a change to the Constitution. This was the case in 2013 with the protests against the first government of Boyko Borissov, as well as the protests against the government of Plamen Oresharski. This was also the case during the first two years of the second government of Boyko Borissov (2014-2015), when the Minister of Justice, Hristo Ivanov, insisting on changes to the judicial system. This is also the case again now in 2020 with the protests against the third government of Boyko Borissov. 

Why are the protesters demanding a new Constitution? Above all these demands give a legitimacy and additional weight and significance to the protests themselves. For the leaders of the protest, simply overthrowing the current government does not seem to make enough sense. 

It has always been said that the present Constitution is a “Communist” Constitution, since it was adopted with the predominant participation of members of parliament from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, (formerly Bulgarian Communist Party). There has never been true debate about the precise “Communist” essence of the Constitution and what precisely needs to be changed in it. 

Characteristics of the Constitution

If we read the Constitution carefully, we will see that it is a typical modern European constitution which incorporates both the good and the bad aspects of European constitutionalism. 

First, the good things. The Bulgarian Constitution: 

  1. Promulgates commitment to universal human values: freedom, peace, humanism, equality, justice and tolerance; 
  2. It stresses the supreme principle of the rights of the individual, dignity and security; 
  3. It declares that Bulgaria is a democratic, legal and social state; 
  4. It postulates the basic principle of representative democracy: All power in the state derives from the people. This power is performed directly by the people through the bodies provided for in this Constitution
  5. It guarantees the equality of all citizens before the law and does not allow any restrictions on rights or privileges based on race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, origin, religion, education, beliefs, political affiliation, personal and social status or property status; 
  6. It guarantees the right of ownership and inheritance;
  7. It proclaims freedom of religion; 
  8. It formulates the basic rights, obligations and responsibilities of citizens; 
  9. It distinguishes national government from local government; 
  10. It constitutes the main bodies of government, 

And so on… 

As can be seen, the Bulgarian Constitution incorporates all the progressive ideas enshrined in the constitutions of any legal and developed modern state. 

Secondly, what’s problematic about it (control and division of powers)

The Bulgarian Constitution, as typical of European parliamentary republics and monarchies, strictly adheres to the principles of representative democracy which unfortunately, contain inherent weaknesses that increase over time: 

1. Representative democracy is unable to ensure effective, real and timely control over the elected representative body. This body always manifests a tendency to detach itself from the body of the Sovereign and lead its own life, sometimes in complete contradiction to the interests of those who elected it. 

2. The three main types of authorities (legislative, executive and judicial) are neither independent nor equal. They cannot be independent since they elect each other. In all areas the legislature appoints the executive, and almost everywhere these two powers oversee and direct the judiciary. 

The Constitution and the system of government

Real division of powers

Politicians and even social science theorists regularly say things which are logical nonsense. They say that the powers should control each other and refer to the unprincipled rule of “Power deters power”. 

It’s logical nonsense for a given power to be subordinated to the control of an equal power. Control over any of these three powers can be exercised only by the civil body from which that power derives. As we have pointed out, and as it is written in every modern constitution, including ours, this power is the People, or the Sovereign (all citizens with voting rights). 

It is thus obvious that almost everywhere the three types of government are neither divided nor independent. They represent one whole which in the course of the political process is fully subordinated to the parties. Thus we have a version of hidden partocracy. We may never know what lies behind partocracy. There are secret forces at work defending their interests. 

The vices inherent in representative democracy are not innocent. Wherever representative democracy exists, the relations between the powers are subject to completely unprincipled rules. Supreme to everything is the will of the empowered parties which appoint the parliament, government and the judiciary. However, they themselves are ultimately not governed by the will of the Sovereign, but by that anonymous and secret mass euphemistically referred to as the Deep State. In other words, the extremely rich and influential powers that exist behind-the-scenes and in whose interest, power is exercised. 

The logical terminological tightrope which reflects the key division of power in any democracy is shocking, but people have become so accustomed to this nonsense for so long that it makes no impression on them. However, there are people who benefit from this. 

So, we have come to the conclusion that the Bulgarian system of government (and not only the Bulgarian) is not a representative democracy, but facade partocracy. The division of powers is fictitious and their independence is non-existent. 

Let us examine the whole chain: 

  1. Bulgarian citizens elect the legislature (National Assembly) primarily on party grounds, by voting for lists approved by the party leaderships. A given party receives a majority in the National Assembly. This majority is de facto not controlled by the voters, but by the party leadership of the victorious party
  2. At the suggestion of the party leadership, the legislature of the winning party elects the executive. 
  3. The legislature – depending on the quotas of the parties represented in parliament – elects 11 of the 25 members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) which is the highest administrative body of the judiciary in the Republic of Bulgaria. If a given party rules for 2 or more terms, it can thus appoint a major part of the 22 regular members of the SJC. The other 3 members of the SJC consist of the President of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) and the Prosecutor General who are appointed by the President at the proposal of the SJC. If the president is from the same ruling party (there have been 3 such cases since 1989 – UDF, BSP and GERB), then in practice almost the entire Supreme Judicial Council may be entirely dependent on the ruling party

Taking thee irrefutable facts into account, we can add the name of our governmental system: oligarchy in the form of facade partocracy which de facto supersedes Art. 1, para. 2 and 3 of the Constitution, which states: 

(2) All state power derives from the people. It is exercised directly by the people and through the bodies envisaged by the Constitution for that purpose. 

(3) No part of the people, political party or other organization, state institution or individual may appropriate the sovereignty of the people.

Therefore, if we want to live in a real democracy, the changes to the Constitution must not affect anything but those texts which allow the parties to appropriate the sovereignty of the people.

What should the new texts be? The new texts in the Constitution should ensure the real division of powers, their independence and autonomy. This means the following:

  • Members of parliament must be elected on a majority basis as independent individuals proposed by themselves , not as party candidates, and they shall work for the good of the whole nation, not for party, corporate, behind-the-scenes or personal interests;
  • There must be separate national elections for the executive power (not elected by parliament), and in these elections the parties should propose their own programmes and their own designated cabinet, without coalitions; 
  • the senior positions in the judiciary (Chief Prosecutor, Chairmen of the SAC and the SCC, Chief Inspector) shall also be elected by the people, and the remainder of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be elected only on a collegiate basis, without a part of it being elected by parliament. 

Only such measures will allow for the real division of powers and the proper functioning of the system of government. 

Control over the representatives of the people

What can we say about control? In representative democracy who controls the implementation of the powers delegated to the three authorities? Who is responsible for the replacement of the collective bodies and those persons who do not have the necessary qualities or who do not work not for the public good?

The answer is clear: no one. Representative democracy is inherently incapable of exercising any control over the empowered collective bodies and individuals. 

The only way that control can be exercised is for the Sovereign (the people) to possess an efficient, cheap and fast mechanism for recalling and replacing the collective bodies and persons in question. They should not be an emanation of any meritocratic or partocratic elites, but authorised representatives of the Sovereign performing activities on their behalf and for the benefit of the whole society.

In this way the vicious umbilical cord that connects the system of government with partocracy and its comprador and corporate interests can be cut once and for all. The existence of this umbilical cord is the real problem of our state and society. But no one talks about it. 

The Constitution and the media environment

Democracy is the kingdom of the word. It is a form of government based on continuous elections. Every election is connected with constructing personal and collective opinions, likes and dislikes, the preference for certain personalities, ideas, parties and promises. Every preference and liking in today’s world is entirely dependent on interaction with the media environment. Thus, it follows that even the slightest distortion of media images in one way or another can lead to serious consequences for the hearts and minds of people, and therefore – on the electoral process. 

If democracy is the kingdom of the word, then the fake word falsifies the constant choices that the citizen makes in a democracy. It follows then that fake, manipulated and inaccurate news, as well as comments based on invented or manipulated arguments, have a powerful negative impact on the overall functioning of the social mechanism, i.e .they pose a public threat. Unfortunately, the media environment today is not typical of normal democracy, but post-democracy in the conditions of post-truth. This is the final, putrefying stage in the development of representative democracy.

The only solution to this situation is, on the one hand, to introduce more democracy and, on the other hand, to draft new media legislation regarding the Constitution. This will ensure a media environment (including the blogosphere) which reflects and interprets real events and social processes, rather than constructing a parallel reality filled with truths, half-truths, outright lies, inventions, manipulations, and falsifications. 

This new media legislation must be linked to the Constitution and ensure that:

  1. Concentration of the media both overtly and covertly in the hands of one entity may not exceed 10%. 
  2. All media shall be obliged to follow good editorial practices by clearly separating news from comments and analyzes, and by publishing news only after the necessary verification.
  3. Media liability in the case of publications of lies, compromising materials, manipulations and falsifications, must not only be a matter of the Civil Code, but also the Criminal Code. The sanctions must be drastically increased and all the more serious cases and repeated occurrences must be punishable by imprisonment of those found culpable. 
  4. New media regulations concerning not only the traditional electronic media (television and radio), but also the Internet and the blogosphere. 

The Constitution and healthcare for all

Art.52. (1) of the present Constitution states: Citizens have the right to health insurance which guarantees them affordable medical care, and free use of medical care under the conditions of and in accordance with the procedure established by law

The basic meaning is hidden and veiled within the ornate verbal construction: full medical services are available to those who pay their insurance, while all the others can receive only emergency and urgent medical help. 

Therefore, only wealthy people can enjoy full treatment.

Everyone else will have to put up with diseases which are not directly life threatening.

There has been increasing talk of late about a basic package of medical services for the insured, and an additional package for which even the insured persons will have to pay. 

This does not include dentistry. 

Our view of the changes in the Constitution on this matter is that in a civilized country which truly complies with the principles of humanism in the 21st century, there must be no sick people who lack access to treatment because they do not have the necessary money. 

That is why we insist that it be enshrined in the future Constitution that all Bulgarian citizens without exception have the natural right to full treatment

This, of course, should also lead to radical changes in health financing. For this purpose, we propose the abolition of health insurance and an increase in VAT by 5%. We have calculated that the amount collected through the National Social Insurance Fund corresponds almost entirely to a 5% increase in VAT. In this way, by paying VAT, absolutely everyone will participate in the financing of health care, and will receive the full range of health care. 

Greater National Assembly 

There has been heated debate about the Greater National Assembly. The position of the Direct Democracy Party on this matter is that the GNA is a thing of the past. It is unnecessary and too cumbersome for modern conditions. 

Therefore, should the GNA be convened, the only purpose should be the removal from the Bulgarian Constitution of the concept of the GNA and authorization of the ordinary National Assembly to make changes to all articles and paragraphs, which was until now only possible in the conditions of the GNA. 

About the variable notions of concepts

Often in politics, one and the same idea, measure or action can achieve completely opposite results depending on the political context. This is true of legislation, state structure, structure of political parties, political activity on the part of citizens, media and institutional environment, etc.

A clear example in this regard is the debate to reduce the number of members of parliament in the National Assembly by half. It should be clear to everyone that in the current context which includes the clandestine governance of the Deep State, façade partocracy, the concentration of huge capital for the purpose of buying the requisite people, and  a fully controlled media environment, etc., a reduction in the number of members of parliament will not only make life much easier for the clandestine players, but also save them a lot of money. Such a change will have no other effect. 

The same applies to the partial or complete transition to majority elections. This measure would have another terrible side effect. It would reduce the number of parties represented in parliament to a maximum of three, perpetuating the status quo indefinitely in the near future. 

These consequences of the decisions to reduce the number of members of parliament, or to introduce a majority vote, are possible in the current system of representative democracy with a lack of control, a lack of a recall system and a party political parliament. 

In a system of direct democracy, however, these disadvantages can easily be turned into advantages. In such a case it would make sense to discuss them both as ideas and in terms of their implementation. 

It is crucial that any change be taken into account in the political context down to the smallest detail. Like many other substances: in the right dose it may be medicine, in the wrong – poison.

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