Bulgaria

   

Quality of Democracy

#35
Key Findings
With a number of weak spots, Bulgaria falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 35) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has lost 0.1 point relative to 2014.

Voting has been made compulsory, although penalties are not severe. Despite limits on party financing, firms provide extra-legal contributions in exchange for patronage. Referendums are increasingly popular, but are binding only if voter turnout is high.

Many private media firms are owned by business groups with government contracts, with ownership structures often being non-transparent. However, the sector remains pluralistic overall. Politicians have begun threatening media figures with more frequency, at times with impunity.

The overuse of force by law enforcement, particularly against Roma, is a serious problem. The Roma minority is highly marginalized, and public discourse is increasingly xenophobic, fanned by hate speech propagated in media outlets. Legal certainty is undermined by unpredictable executive action. Judicial independence is improving, and a new anti-corruption agency has been created.

Electoral Processes

#33

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
9
Elections in Bulgaria are regulated by the electoral code of 2014. Registration of parties and candidates is broadly fair and transparent. The registration of candidates requires a prospective candidate to be registered as a member of a party, coalition of parties or nominating committee with the Central Electoral Commission. The individual must then be registered as a candidate by the respective party or committee. For the registration of parties or nominating committees, a bank deposit and a certain number of citizen signatures are required. While these requirements are reasonable, what is more controversial are the personal requirements for candidates, partly enshrined in the Bulgarian constitution. Under the present legislation, people holding citizenship of a country outside the European Union are not allowed to run in elections. Citizens of other EU member countries can only run in elections for municipal councils and the European Parliament. While this provision has not yet played any role in practice, it may violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Another often-criticized constitutional clause prohibits the formation of “ethnically based” parties, which has been used in the past to try to stop a party registering for election, although this attempt was ultimately struck down by the courts.

In the case of the presidential elections in November 2016, there were 24 candidates, three of whom were refused registration by the central electoral commission. The three refusals were based on failure by the nominating committees to demonstrate the required number of citizens’ signatures supporting the nomination. None of the refused candidates were perceived as viable, so their exclusion did not have a meaningful effect. Having 21 running candidates for president in a country of seven million indicates relatively liberal candidate registration.

In the case of the early parliamentary elections in March 2017, there were 18 parties and nine coalitions registered. Six parties and coalitions were denied registration for the elections. In one case, the reason was a change in the name of the party, the party appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, won the appeal and was registered. In the other five cases, the reason for refusal of registration was the insufficient number of citizen signatures secured by the respective party or coalition. In all cases, the refusals were upheld by the court.

Citations:
OSCE/ OHDIR (2016): Republic of Bulgaria: Presidential Election 2016. Needs Assessment Mission Report. Warsaw (https://www.osce.org/office-for-democratic-institutions-and-human-rights/elections/bulgaria/248771?download=true).

OSCE/ OHDIR (2017): Republic of Bulgaria: Early Parliamentary Elections, 17 March 2017. Limited Election Observation Mission, Final Report Warsaw. (https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/bulgaria/327171?download=true).

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
5
Media access for candidates and parties differs drastically between publicly and privately run media. The public broadcast media – one TV and one radio station with several channels each – are required by law to provide full and balanced coverage and to set aside time for every candidate and registered party or coalition to make their own presentations. With usually a large number of parties or candidates in the running, including the case of the 2016 presidential elections and the 2017 parliamentary elections, splitting the time between all is a serious challenge that leaves most participants dissatisfied.

By contrast, access to the privately held media, especially print media, is to a large extent a function of influence or financing. Many private media firms are in the hands of business groups heavily involved in dealings with the state. These organizations tend to present the ruling majority in a positive light, or to block the access of competing political candidates, in exchange for favorable business deals. In the case of local elections, many of these media outlets support specific local candidates and coalitions connected to these special interests.

The role of non-traditional media in Bulgarian elections is increasing. Access to these outlets is available to all candidates.

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
7
Bulgarian voters are registered by default through voter lists maintained by the municipalities. Voter lists are published in advance of election day, and voters can also check their presence on the lists online. Every person who is not included in the voter list at their place of residence can ask to be included, and if not included can appeal to the courts. Bulgarian citizens residing abroad have the right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as in national referendums. They can do this at the various consular services of Bulgaria, or if they establish a polling station themselves in accordance with procedures specified in the election code.

Contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, people serving prison sentences are not allowed to vote. Another limitation affects absentee voting – citizens can obtain permits to vote outside of their permanent place of residence, but no general postal vote exists. A national referendum in 2015 on a proposal to introduce distance electronic voting received overwhelming support, forcing parliament to decide on the issue in 2016. While parliament refrained from enshrining remote electronic voting in the electoral code, it paved the way for experimenting with it in the future.

Changes to the electoral code adopted in April 2016 made voting compulsory and limited the number of voting sections in foreign countries to 35 per country. The sanction for not voting, however, was quite weak – the voter can be taken out of the register after not voting in three consecutive elections, but a simple written request is sufficient for reinstatement – and was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in February 2017. The limitation of sections abroad was dropped for EU countries. Neither of the two changes played a significant role in the two national elections during the period under review.

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
5
Party financing in Bulgaria is regulated by the Political Parties Act originally adopted in April 1990. Parties are financed through a combination of a state subsidy, membership dues, property income, and sale of publications and royalties. They are also allowed to draw bank credit up to a set cap. Anonymous donations are not allowed, and donations can be made only by individuals, not by companies or other legal entities. The audit office oversees party financing in Bulgaria. Every year parties are obliged to submit a full financial report, including a description of all their properties and an income statement. Reports from parties with budgets larger than €25,000 must be certified by an independent financial auditor. In addition to the annual reports, parties, coalitions or nominating committees are obliged to submit special financial reports after each electoral campaign. The audit office is obliged to publish all these reports online, perform a thorough audit of the reports, and prepare and publish online its own auditing report. Parties are subject to sanctions for irregularities in their financial reporting. The likelihood of political sanctions being exercised is increased by the fact that all reports are made available online.

Despite legal provisions to the contrary, in practice, non-regulated party financing seems to be available, as all parties have “concentric circles” of firms that finance the parties in exchange for political patronage. A second problem with party financing in Bulgaria is that the legal framework has tended to favor the larger parties because the funding that parties receive from the state is linked to the number of votes cast for them in the most recent parliamentary election. This has made it difficult for small new parties to emerge without significant private financial support.

In the national referendum that accompanied the presidential elections in November 2016, a majority of three-quarters of voters opted for limiting state subsidies to parties to BGN 1 per voter, down from BGN 11 per voter presently. Since turnout was slightly lower than in the 2014 parliamentary elections, however, the referendum was not binding. In 2017, parliament did not consider the proposal.

Citations:
Rashkova, E., M. Spirova (2014): Party regulation and the conditioning of small political parties: evidence from Bulgaria, in: East European Politics 30(3), 315-329.

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
7
There are several forms of direct democracy in Bulgaria, at both the local and national levels. The set of eligible issues is limited, as budgetary issues cannot be addressed in municipal or national referendums. At the national level, in addition, the structure of the Council of Ministers, and the personnel of the Council of Ministers, Supreme Judicial Council and Constitutional Court cannot be decided on the basis of referendums. Citizens’ committees can address the National Assembly to call a referendum if they collect at least 200,000 signatures in favor of holding a referendum. If the number of signatures exceed 400,000, the Assembly is obliged to call a referendum. Parliament can, within certain limits set by the law, edit the questions posed. The outcome of referendums is binding only if voter turnout is higher than in the last general election.

In recent years there has been a sudden spurt of referendums, with one in 2013, one in 2015 and one referendum on three different proposals in November 2016. The 2013 and 2015 referendums did not register a sufficiently high turnout to oblige parliament to act other than to explicitly address the issue. The 2016 referendum turnout was also not strong enough to make the results obligatory for parliament. However, the strong popular support for all demands has made it politically very difficult for members of parliament to ignore the referendum.

Requirements for local referendums are less stringent than for national, and 10% of voters with permanent residence in the municipality can make a binding proposal for a referendum. If more than 40% of voters with permanent residence participate, the local referendum is binding for the local government. Unlike in previous years, no local referendums took place in the period under review.

Access to Information

#33

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/ market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
4
In legal terms, media in Bulgaria are independent of the government. All electronic media – public or private – are subject to licensing by two independent state agencies: the Council for Electronic Media (issuing programming licenses) and the Commission for Regulation of Communications (for radio frequencies and other technological aspects of electronic media). The Council for Electronic Media also appoints the management of the Bulgarian National Television and the Bulgarian National Radio organizations. No specific regulation exists for print media.

In practice, however, the independence of the media in Bulgaria is limited. Many media organizations depend heavily on advertising and other revenues from the government or from government-owned enterprises and/or have owners involved in business deals with the government. The financial dependence of various media on the government budget has increased in recent years. Transparency regarding the ultimate ownership of private media organizations is very low, increasing the opportunities for and the suspicions regarding illicit use of media to further hidden political and business agendas.

While the media landscape in Bulgaria remains diverse and positions expressed in the media cover the full political spectrum, the end of 2017 saw several people in power make direct threaten media figures. For example, one member of parliament who was a candidate for the directorship of a government agency (Anton Todorov) and one deputy prime minister from the nationalist coalition (Valeri Simeonov) threatened a journalist from Nova TV (Viktor Nikolaev), stating that Nikolaev’s job may be at risk if he continues to question the procurement of new military airplanes. This caused a public scandal and ultimately cost Todoriv his seat in parliament, but Simeonov remains in his position even after publicly demanding that all media covering the scandal apologize to him.

Media independence continues to be compromised by a lack of ownership transparency and the low degree of editorial independence at pro-government media outlets, rather than by the harassment (legal or physical) or suppression of opposition outlets.

A major development in this space has been the growth of non-traditional media. On the one hand, non-traditional media are much more difficult to suppress by the powerful of the day. On the other hand, they are more susceptible to specific manipulations.

Citations:
Smilova, R., D. Smilov, G. Ganev (2012): Democracy and the Media in Bulgaria: Who Represents the People? in: E. Psychogiopoulou (ed.), Understanding Media Policies. A European Perspective. Basingstoke/ London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 37-54.

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
5
Media pluralism in Bulgaria is supported by a quite diversified ownership structure. The sheer plurality of media outlets ensures relatively broad coverage of different points of view. At the same time, however, the ownership structure is often opaque. It is often unclear who the actual owners are, and what their business and political interests are, even though over the last two years at least one well known de facto owner of print media (Delyan Peevski) has made his ownership official. A very significant recent development is the rising importance of online media, including blogging and various independent sites, which have begun to influence the overall information process. These online resources played a prominent role in the referendum and election campaigns in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – and seem to be ever more actively used at the expense of traditional media.

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
7
Access to government information for citizens is guaranteed by the Bulgarian constitution and regulated by the Access to Public Information Act originally adopted in 2000. The provisions, which have been refined several times, allow a very high level of access for citizens to government information and are subject to judicial oversight through court appeals. The opportunity for court appeals has been actively used by civil society actors and organizations, and a robust court practice has developed. In recent years, the amount of government information made freely and promptly available on the internet has increased markedly, so that the need for formal requests for information has declined. However, the annual reports of the Access to Information Program, an NGO established in 1996, indicate that a number of government institutions still try to impede freedom of access to information. The most common excuse for refusing to release such information is that interests of third parties may be affected, while confidentiality and classified information considerations come a distant second. Delays in the provision of information also persist.

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#33

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
5
The Bulgarian constitution and legislation provide a comprehensive, gradually improving framework guaranteeing civil rights and their protection. In practice, rights are generally respected by state agencies and citizens have legal recourse when infringements of these rights do occur. Bulgarian citizens actively use the administrative-justice process to challenge the actions of state agencies, and the courts regularly side with citizen plaintiffs. Bulgarian cases are also regularly heard at the European Court of Human Rights.

The most frequent and serious rights violations are the overuse of force by law-enforcing government bodies, especially against Roma. Citizens regularly report failures to investigate and protect rights related to some types of crimes, especially crimes against property. The length of legal proceedings represents a significant problem.

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
8
Political liberties are guaranteed in Bulgaria by the constitution and relevant laws. Bulgarians enjoy the freedom to express themselves, to assemble and organize themselves (including explicitly politically), to hold religious beliefs and to petition the government. Bulgarians have clearly established rights to speak freely, assemble and protest. The freedom of expression has suffered from the declining independence of the traditional media, but has been strengthened by the opportunities provided by internet.

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
5
The Bulgarian constitution, the 2004 Anti-Discrimination Act and various EU directives guarantee protection against discrimination. There is a Commission for Protection against Discrimination, and citizens have access to the courts in cases of suspected discrimination. In practice, however, instances of discrimination can be frequently observed. Discrimination against the highly marginalized Roma minority remains a major issue. Groups such as people with mental and physical disabilities and members of sexual minorities face discrimination within the labor market. Elderly people and those with comparatively low socioeconomic status often face discrimination with regard to the provision of health services. Public discourse regarding migrants has grown increasingly xenophobic as many Bulgarian media outlets openly broadcast hate speech, thereby contributing to racially motivated agitation.

Rule of Law

#35

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
5
Bulgaria’s government and administration refer heavily to the law and take pains to justify their actions in formal and legal terms. However, two features of the legal environment reduce legal certainty. First, the law gives the administration sizable scope for discretion. Second, the existing legislation suffers from many internal inconsistencies and contradictions that make it possible to find formal legal justifications for widely varying decisions. For both reasons, executive action is not only relatively unpredictable, but may involve applying the law differently to different citizens or firms, thus creating privileges for some and disadvantages for others.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
6
Courts in Bulgaria are formally independent from other branches of power and have large competencies to review the actions and normative acts of the executive. In practice, however, court reasoning and decisions are sometimes influenced by outside factors, including informal political pressure and more importantly the influence of private sector groups and individuals through corruption and nepotism. The performance of the Bulgarian judicial system is considered to be relatively poor, both within the country and by the European Commission, which has regularly reported on this matter under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria.

Since December 2015, some important constitutional changes have been made that affect the structure and activity of the Supreme Judicial Council, which heads the judicial branch. The changes involve the creation of two separate panels – one overseeing judges, the other overseeing prosecutors. The Supreme Judicial Council which stepped into office in September 2017 is widely considered to be an improvement over the previous council, especially with respect to the members of the judges’ panel. It is expected that this will make courts more independent from outside influence.

Citations:
European Commission (2017): Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. COM(2017) 750 final, Brussels (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/comm-2017-750_en_0.pdf).

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
5
The procedures for appointing Constitutional Court justices in Bulgaria do not include special majority requirements, thus enabling political appointments. However, political control over the judiciary is limited by the fact that three different bodies are involved and appointments are spread over time. The 12 justices of the Constitutional Court are appointed on an equal quota principle with simple majorities by the president, the National Assembly and a joint plenary of the justices of the two supreme courts (the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court). Justices serve nine-year mandates, with four justices being replaced every three years.

The chairs of two supreme courts are appointed with a qualified majority by the Supreme Judicial Council. Over recent years, these positions have been held by both people with highly dubious reputations and political dependencies, and people with very high reputations and capacity to maintain the independence of the court system. The most recent appointment in October 2017 of a new chair of the Supreme Administrative Court falls in the former category.

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
4
As successive European Commission reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism have shown, Bulgaria’s formal legal anti-corruption framework is quite extensive, but has not proven very effective. Despite some improvement in the standard corruption perception indices in the past three years, corruption has remained a serious problem. While the executive and state prosecutors have initiated numerous criminal prosecutions against high-profile political actors, the conviction rate in those high-profile cases has been very small. After coming to office, the Borissov government, in line with recommendations by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, attempted to create a unified anti-corruption agency. The new legislation was adopted by parliament in December 2017.

Citations:
Avdjiiski, L. (2016): Why Does the Fight Against Corruption in Bulgaria not Give Results. Institute for Market Economics, Sofia (http://ime.bg/en/articles/why-does-the-fight-against-corruption-in-bulgaria-not-give-results/).

European Commission (2017): Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. COM(2017) 750 final, Brussels (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/comm-2017-750_en_0.pdf).
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