Bulgaria - Politics

Politics

Bulgaria is a parliamentary democracy in which the most powerful executive position is that of prime minister. The political system has three branches—legislative, executive and judicial, with universal suffrage for citizens at least 18 years old. Elections are supervised by an independent Central Election Commission that includes members from all major political parties. Parties must register with the commission prior to participating in a national election. Normally, the prime minister-elect is the leader of the party receiving the most votes in parliamentary elections.

Political parties gather in the National Assembly, which consists of 240 deputies elected to four-year terms by direct popular vote. The National Assembly has the power to enact laws, approve the budget, schedule presidential elections, select and dismiss the Prime Minister and other ministers, declare war, deploy troops abroad, and ratify international treaties and agreements. The president serves as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and has the authority to return a bill for further debate, although the parliament can override the presidential veto by a simple majority vote of all members of parliament. Boyko Borisov of the centre-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) became prime minister on 27 July 2009, while GERB-backed Rosen Plevneliev was elected president in 2011, after receiving 52.5 per cent of the votes on the second round against 47.5 per cent for his Socialist Party opponent Ivaylo Kalfin. As of 2012, GERB has 117 seats in the National Assembly and no permanent political allies, thus ruling as a minority government.

Bulgaria has a typical civil law legal system. The judiciary is overseen by the Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Administrative Court and Supreme Court of Cassation are the highest courts of appeal and oversee the application of laws in subordinate courts. The Supreme Judicial Council manages the system and appoints judges. Bulgaria's judiciary, along with other institutions, remains one of Europe's most corrupt and inefficient.

Law enforcement is carried out by organisations mainly subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. The National Police Service (NPS) combats general crime, maintains public order and supports the operations of other law enforcement agencies. NPS fields 27,000 police officers in its local and national sections. The Ministry of Interior also heads the Border Police Service and the National Gendarmerie—a specialised branch for anti-terrorist activity, crisis management and riot control. Counterintelligence and national security are the responsibility of the State Agency for National Security, established in 2008.

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