Head of State Rumen Radev: it is not the Lack of a New Constitution and of a Grand National Assembly that Brought the People to the Streets but the Lack of Morality in Government
What is even more disappointing than the loss of trust is the loss of dignity, because Parliament allowed itself to become an unconditional executor of the will of the prime minister, the President said in an address to the people and the National Assembly
Esteemed Mrs. Parliament Speaker,
Esteemed Mrs. Vice-president,
Esteemed Assembly Deputies,
Ladies and gentlemen, representatives of the media,
Esteemed Assembly deputies, escape will not save you from disgrace. This proves that the real parliament is in front of the building. Of course, I am not very enthusiastic about being in the National Assembly given the current situation. However, Bulgarians have elected both me and you to represent them and solve their problems and at least to listen to each other. I will not comment your leaving the parliament, however, it is indicative of the lack of dialogue and why people have taken to the streets today.
I would first like to congratulate you for the new hall and wish that it becomes a witness of making wise decisions to the benefit of the Bulgarian people.
I address you, the Assembly deputies, because amid the deep moral and institutional crisis, in the growing distance between citizens and power holders, it is namely the National Assembly that is the institution which should display responsibility in the decisions it makes for civil peace and Bulgaria’s future.
You remember that exactly a year ago I addressed the people and the National Assembly from this rostrum. I outlined the situation in the country and the problems that tear society apart: rampant corruption, inefficient government, the concentration of power and public resources in a narrow circle of people – that lead to deepening poverty, inequalities and the demographic crisis, to the decay of education and healthcare, to the collapse of institutions.
I showed the ways to resolve them, which aimed at strengthening the civil participation and control over the government, strengthening the rule of law, enhancing the parliamentary control over the executive branch of power, more transparency and accountability in the work of the institutions, strengthening direct democracy, introducing financial decentralization, improving the business environment. I called on parliament, as a central body of state power, to take action to achieve these goals, which are important for our society.
I clearly said that “the time for change is relentlessly running out, as the young and employable Bulgarians are running out, as the Bulgarian villages and Bulgarian pensioners are left to fend for themselves. I called on parliament to concentrate its efforts on the decisions important for our country. I guess you remember that I warned that unless this happens “either apathy will continue to empty Bulgaria, or the street will sweep away the status quo.”
These words of mine were ignored, I guess with the hope that all problems will sink in apathy. However, today the streets are full of people who are indignant and concerned about Bulgaria’s future, they have come to demand resignations.
Had the National Assembly exercised a stronger and fuller control over the executive branch of power, now there would not be inappropriately spent billions, gross oligarchs, drawers full of currency and streets full of angry people.
Had the National Assembly listened to the calls and vetoes for preventing lobbyist legislation, now it would not have such a low public trust and would much more constructively influence the social processes.
There is something even more disappointing than the loss of trust and it is the loss of dignity, because Parliament allowed itself to become an unconditional executor of the will of the prime minister. Nobody in this hall dared to ask even a single question when the prosecutor general made his report.
After two months of relentless protests in the country, of an unprecedented consolidation of our compatriots abroad, of a severe discrediting of Bulgaria in the world media, I think that everything has been said and the diagnosis of such a government has been finally made.
I expect that the Bulgarian parliament will no longer take on the role of the prime minister’s service staff, will no longer change the public agenda, what the public demands today is that it does not defile parliamentarism with illiterate exercises for a new constitution and Grand National Assembly, the only aim of which is to save the current government. This only prolongs the agony and fuels people’s anger.
It is not the lack of a new constitution and of a Grand National Assembly that brought the people to the streets but the lack of morality in government, the undermining of the foundations of statehood and corruption.
Bulgarians clearly stated their will and demands for immediate resignations, this is what you hear outside this building today and the people are continuing to flow in the streets, demanding resignations of the government and of the prosecutor general, fair elections and a new trust.
These resignations are inevitable because people came out of the hypnosis of the propaganda, they overcame the fear and insist on their right to live in a normal country – a desire that is incompatible with the current government.
And when these resignations become a fact, I call on you to prevent any attempts of the status quo to deceive the people’s expectations and to cement itself behind an expert cabinet, which will be nothing more than a marionette of the current government. This will be the only way for the current National Assembly to get out with dignity from the current critical situation.
The Bulgarian parliament is the supreme institution in the state and should be the most respected one, which depends on whether the people’s MPs will make their decisions in accordance above all with the will of their electorate. And if you are unwilling to hear me, then you should at least hear your voters, who are in the streets today and you should not vote for an expert or any other government within the mandate of the current National Assembly. Neither should you vote for the proposed amendments of the Election Code because they are an inadmissible retreat from the Bulgarians’ democratic achievements throughout the years. If we claim to be a democratic country we cannot resolve political issues with police methods, we cannot risk there being an escalation of tension. Political issues are resolved by political means and when trust is irrevocably lost, the means are clear – resignation, of course.
Yes, I agree that debates should be held – not only on amendments of the constitution, but also on making our country a rule-of-law state, a country of a real division of powers, efficient, accountable and transparent institutions, efficiently working to serve the people’s interests, not those of individuals, parties and oligarchic circles. A debate should also be held on the necessary fundamental conditions without which there is no security of the individual, ownership and business. Conditions without which there are no European incomes and high quality of the infrastructure and the public services.
However these debates should be held and the future decisions should be made by the next National Assembly and a government that enjoys the necessary public trust. The thousands of people out in the streets today are a proof that there is an accumulated enormous public energy for change, that a strong civil society has been born in Bulgaria, which will seek a solution for Bulgaria’s real European future, which will require morality in politics and will be uncompromising to any power holder who dares to betray the public interest.
I would like from this rostrum to most responsibly address the protesters and the police to avoid violence and not yield to provocations because we cannot allow exactly in this critical moment for Bulgaria that the people’s demands should be undermined. At this historical moment, the Bulgarian parliament should live up to the people’s expectations and prevent bringing the country into a state of chaos, disorder and deadlock.
As vox populi, I call on you to follow the will and demands of the Bulgarians for the immediate and unconditional resignation of the government. We have no way out of the blockade of the state than the peaceful one, the normal political act of resignation as the trust is lost.
Thank you for your attention!
I wish you success!