Bulgaria Table of Contents
President Zheliu Zhelev meets with United States
President George H.W. Bush, Washington, fall 1990.
Courtesy White House Photo Office
The State Council, technically an executive committee within the National Assembly, was created by the 1971 constitution as the primary executive agency of the national government. Because of that role, the chairman of the council was automatically president of the country and thus one of the two most powerful figures in Bulgaria in the Zhivkov years. The State Council included representatives from trade unions, the Communist Youth League of Bulgaria (Komsomol), and other mass organizations. The council supervised the Council of Ministers and had the right to repeal ministry decisions--a function that clearly reduced the Council of Ministers to secondary executive status. In addition to its executive functions, the State Council could issue direct decrees with full legal authority when the National Assembly was not in session, with no provision for later approval by the full legislative body. Under Zhivkov most members of the State Council were high officials of the BCP. When Petur Mladenov replaced Zhivkov as chairman of the State Council, he did not automatically become head of state. When the State Council was abolished in April 1990, the round table named Mladenov president of the republic, a new title for the Bulgarian head of state. The appointment was made with the understanding that the new constitution would set guidelines for this office. Meanwhile, Mladenov and his successor Zheliu Zhelev retained the power to form cabinets with the consent of the National Assembly, to represent the country abroad, and to act as commander in chief of the armed forces.
Data as of June 1992