Serious threat for democracy in Bulgaria. Proposed changes to law on political parties in Bulgaria
15 October, 2012
In 2009 the Committee of Ministers closed the case relating to OMO “Ilinden”-PIRIN without our party being subsequently registered. It used the argument that Bulgaria had shown good will, a show of good will apparently supported by the reduction of the number of members necessary for registration of political parties from 5000 to 2500. This fact proved to be enough for the Committee, even though it was contradicted by everything else that was occurring on the ground, including the refusal to register Macedonian NGOs on grounds that had been condemned several times by the European Court of Human Rights. On that occasion we warned that there had been no change in the policies of the state and that the supposed “good will” did not in reality exist.
At the moment a proposal from the nationalist party ATAKA for the amendment of the Law on Political Parties, which is supported by 90% of the ruling party GERB, is being examined in the Bulgarian Parliament. These amemndmentss contain the following points:
- an increase in the number of members necessary for registration from 2500 to 5000 once again.
- an increase in the number of founding members necessary for registration from 500 to 1000.
- a demand that parties have branches registered in half of the municipalities in the country.
- a demand that members of party leaderships cannot have dual citizenship (here we come up against one of the more serious forms of discrimination in Bulgaria- people with dual citizenship cannot be candidates for any type of elected state office and now cannot be candidates for leadership positions in political parties).
- A series of administrative and financial demands which smaller and regional parties will find very difficult to meet.
- A ban on regional parties participating in national elections (for the Parliament, European Parliament, President etc)
- Provision of greater opportunities and methods for banning political parties.
The proposed changes can be viewed on the following internet site:
We do not claim that the proposed amendments are intended only for us, however, we cannot but note that a large part of them directly affect us and other minority parties. The elimination of smaller regional and minority parties, the drastic tightening of procedures for the registration and continued operation of parties and the ease with which they can be banned, seriously threatens democracy in Bulgaria.
Apart from that we cannot but note that the changes in the Law on Political Parties in Bulgaria are closely related to the separate stages of our struggle for registration.
1. OMO “Ilinden”- PIRIN was registered in February 1999 when Bulgaria submitted its application for the setting of a date for the commencement of accession talks with the European Union and banned in February 2000, two weeks that date was set.
2. The Law on Political Parties,which was not significantly amended from 1990 until the registration and banning of our party, was then amended and the number of members needed for registration was increased ten fold from 50 to 500.
3. In 2005, several months before the release of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights opposing the prohibition of our party, the law was once again amended and the number of members needed for registration raised another ten fold to 5000, a figure which strangely corresponded with the results of the then last held Census during which only 5071 Macedonians in Bulgaria were allowed to identify as such. In that regard, measures were taken so that the party’s registration could not be restored.
4. The number required was reduced from 5000 to 2500 in 2009-the year in which Bulgaria was doing everything possible to bring to a close the monitoring of our case by the Committee of Ministers.
5. Three months after our battle finished in the European Court of Human Rights (March 2012) and it became clear that we did not have any alternative other than to try to register the party anew, this last proposal was made which apparently has the aim of making the registration of our and similar parties impossible.
The special attention which has been devoted to us in the modification of the Law on Political Parties is directly related to the attempts made by the state to prevent the affirmation and recognition of the Macedonian minority, which could be achieved through our free participation in the political life of the country.
We ask that you turn your attention to these dangerous tendencies in Bulgaria which relate to the curtailment of democracy, as well as to the discrimination against and denial of the existence of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.
On behalf of the Presidency of UMO “Ilinden” PIRIN, we look forward to hearing from you and please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.
До: Президента на Р България
Министерството на образованието
Посолствата в София
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