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Bulgaria Table of Contents


The National Assembly

In the post-Zhivkov reforms, the National Assembly returned to its prewar status as a forum for debate of legislation among representatives of true political factions. This status had been lost completely from 1947 to 1989, when the assembly rubber-stamped legislation originating in the BCP hierarchy.

The Assembly under Zhivkov

According to the 1971 constitution, the unicameral National Assembly was the supreme organ of state power, acting as the national legislature and electing all the other bodies of the national government. In practice under the Zhivkov regime, the National Assembly met for three short sessions each year, long enough to approve policies and legislation formulated by the Council of Ministers and the State Council. The National Assembly had a chairman (elected by the entire body, until 1990 at the recommendation of the BCP Central Committee), and four deputy vice chairs. In the intervals between sessions, the functions of the assembly were conducted by permanent commissions whose number and designation varied through the years. Not enumerated in the 1971 constitution, the authority of the commissions often overlapped that of the ministerial departments. The National Assembly had the power to dissolve itself or extend its term in emergency session.

During the Zhivkov years, new assemblies were elected every five years to coincide with party congresses; the Central Committee of the BCP met immediately before the first session of each new assembly to approve candidates who were then rubber-stamped by the National Assembly for the leadership positions of the assembly, State Council, and Council of Ministers. The ninth National Assembly (1986-90) was rarely even notified of policy decisions of the Zhivkov-led State Council. Nevertheless, election of the National Assembly remained the most important political ritual in Bulgaria throughout the communist period, and the return to free assembly elections in 1990 recalled the direct popular representation prescribed in the Turnovo Constitution of 1879, still revered as a model for Bulgarian governance.

Data as of June 1992