The Coalition Council postpones the decision on the size of the state subsidy by the end of July
The government coalition of GERB and United Patriots discussed Tuesday at a Coalition Council the amount of the state party subsidy. The Council decided it will hold another session by the end of July in order to review what was done in the past two years and what is yet to be done until the end of the coalition's term.
On June 19, the National Assembly reduced at first reading the state subsidies for
political parties from 11 leva to 1 lev per valid vote won at the latest parliamentary elections, effective from July 1 to December 31, 2019. Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov summoned the Coalition Council at the request of National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) leader Valeri Simeonov, as on June 21, the National Assembly postponed the second reading vote for revisions to the State Budget Act.
Emerging from the meeting, Valeri Simeonov told journalists that the parties in the ruling coalition agreed that they should not act impatiently on the issue of reducing the state party subsidy, and that it should be subject to a much bigger discussion in a wider context among all political parties.
According to Simeonov, the State Budget Act should also be revised because it treats the topic of the state party subsidy for the second half of 2019, and the public expects the subsidy to be reduced, which can only happen through amendments to the Political Parties Act.
"We all share the same position that the subsidy must be reduced," Simeonov noted. Amendments to the Political Party Act will be voted before the National Assembly adjourns for the summer.
Prime Minister Borissov commented that GERB will not give up on its position that the state party subsidy should be 1 lev per valid vote. "After the talks with all parties, which were initiated by the United Patriots, we are ready to talk about the Political Parties Act. It should be revised, as the Finance Ministry and the Council of Ministers are currently busy with paying out the party subsidy, and all of this should be included in the Act," Borissov noted.
Nationalist formations supported at first reading the Government's decision to reduce the subsidies to 1 lev per valid vote, but they demanded that the texts be made more precise before the final vote. The VMRO - Bulgarian National Movement supported the subsidy reduction but only to 5-6 leva per valid vote, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and the Bulgarian Socialist Party firmly opposed the idea.
Before entering the Council session, only representatives of NFSB and Ataka (both part of the United Patriots) announced their opposing positions to journalists.
Valeri Simeonov said that for him, it is best to postpone the topic of the state party subsidy and to find a compromise. He noted that the decisions were taken too fast and that there should be a more comprehensive dialogue and consultations.
Answering to a journalist's question, Simeonov said he does not rule out the possibility that the issue of party subsidies might reflect on the coalition.
Dessislav Choukolov, Ataka deputy leader, said that his party supports the reduction of party subsidies to 1 lev per valid vote and is in favour of completely dropping subsidies.
"The subsidy should be 1 lev, even zero, if possible - this is what Bulgarian voters say, and this is what we from Ataka want to comply with," Choukolov noted. He also voiced his disapproval of a proposal made by the MRF for external funding of parties, arguing that this would interfere with Bulgarian political life.