Bulgaria Tourist Information - Government


Government type: emerging democracy
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria
conventional short form: Bulgaria
Data code: BU
Government type: republic
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (oblasti, singular—oblast); Burgas, Grad Sofia, Khaskovo, Lovech, Montana, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofia, Varna
Independence: 22 September 1908 (from Ottoman Empire)
National holiday: Independence Day, 3 March (1878)
Constitution: adopted 12 July 1991
Legal system: civil law and criminal law based on Roman law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state:

President - Petar STOYANOV (since 22 January 1997);
Web site : www.president.bg
Vice President - Todor KAVALDZHIEV (since 22 January 1997)

head of government:

Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) Ivan KOSTOV (since 19 May 1997);
Web site: www.government.bg
cabinet:Council of Ministers elected by the National Assembly


president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 27 October and 3 November 1996 (next to be held NA 2001); chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) nominated by the president

election results:

Petar STOYANOV elected president; percent of vote—Petar STOYANOV 59.73%

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sobranie (240 seats; members are popularly elected to serve four-year terms)


last held 19 April 1997 (next to be held NA 2001)

election results:

percent of vote by party—UDF 52%, BSP 22%, ANS 7%, Euro-left 5.5%, BBB 4.95%; seats by party—UDF 137, BSP 58, ANS 19, Euro-left 14, BBB 12

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court, chairman appointed for a seven-year term by the president; Constitutional Court, 12 justices appointed or elected for a nine-year term

Political parties and leaders:

Bulgarian Socialist Party or BSP [Georgi PURVANOV, chairman]; Union of Democratic Forces or UDF (an alliance of pro-Democratic parties) [Ivan KOSTOV]; Euro-left [Aleksandur TOMOV]; Alliance for National Salvation or ANS (coalition led mainly by Movement for Rights and Freedoms or DPS [Ahmed DOGAN]); Bulgarian Business Bloc or BBB [Georgi GANCHEV]; People's Union [Anastasiya MOZER and Stefan SAVOV, cochairmen]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Democratic Alliance for the Republic or DAR; New Union for Democracy or NUD; Podkrepa Labor Confederation; Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria or CITUB; Bulgarian Agrarian National Union—United or BZNS; Bulgarian Democratic Center; "Nikola Petkov" Bulgarian Agrarian National Union; Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization or IMRO; Agrarian movement; numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various agendas

International organization participation:


Flag description:

three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red; the national emblem formerly on the hoist side of the white stripe has been removed—it contained a rampant lion within a wreath of wheat ears below a red five-pointed star and above a ribbon bearing the dates 681 (first Bulgarian state established) and 1944 (liberation from Nazi control)


The paragraphs in Article One of the Bulgarian Constitution that guaranteed the "leading role in society" of the BCP were removed by the National Assembly on January 16, 1990.

Further changes in the constitution are under consideration, and more, significant changes in the political structure of the country may follow. As currently written, the constitution provides for a unicameral 400-member National Assembly, described as "the supreme organ of state power." Each deputy in this body represents a particular district and, in the past, ran for election for a 5-year term on a single Fatherland Front list. The government has pledged that the assembly elections called for May 1990 will permit competition by multiple candidates representing different parties.

The National Assembly is required to meet three times a year. Formerly, its sessions were typically pro forma affairs, but since November it has convened more frequently and has shown signs of independence. The executive branch is the Council of Ministers (cabinet), the chairman of which-the prime minister-is head of government. The number of Cabinet-rank officials has varied over the years but generally is about 30.

The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body. It is responsible for and reports on its activity to the National Assembly and, between assembly sessions, to the State Council. Judges are elected for a 5-year period. The Bulgarian judicial system also has a chief prosecutor, elected for a 5-year term, who is constitutionally charged with seeing that laws are obeyed, particularly those concerning Bulgarian national and economic interests, independence, and sovereignty.

Bulgaria has a three-tiered system of government. Below the central government are 27 provinces (okrugs) and one city, Sofia, which also has the status of a province. Subordinate to the 27 provinces are more than 1,100 urban and rural communities (obshtina), constituting the third level of government. The provinces and communities are governed by elected People's Councils and party-appointed executive officials.


The removal of long-time Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov from government and party positions on November 11, 1989, began a period of significant change in Bulgarian political life. Until this time, the BCP, with about 984,000 members, controlled all phases of Bulgarian life. The Bulgarian constitution guaranteed it a role as the leading force in society. Petur Mladenov, former Foreign Minister, took over from Zhivkov as Head of State and Secretary General of the BCP.

In the period that followed, six of the nine full Politburo members were dismissed, as were three of the six candidate members. In most cases, these were individuals closely associated with former leader Zhivkov or with his most unpopular policies. There also were changes in the Central Committee (CC) membership, which were widely viewed as an effort to bring more liberal and reform-minded party members into responsible positions. Most important, however, the CC of the BCP voted in December 1989 to relinquish its monopoly on power.

On January 16, 1990, the National Assembly formally removed the clauses guaranteeing the BCP's preeminence from the constitution. The other political party that functioned in Bulgaria during communist rule is the Bulgarian National Agrarian Union (BANU). A coalition partner of the BCP, it could not have an independent program. Its leadership also changed in November 1989, and some of its members have begun to take the initiative, in the National Assembly and elsewhere, to assume a more independent position. Other political parties have begun to form since Zhivkov's dismissal.

A new law on associations is expected to be considered by the National Assembly early in 1990; this would set the guidelines for the functioning of other political parties. In the meantime, independent parties are forming without benefit of legal guidelines and have apparently been permitted to function without government interference. A Social Democratic Party has been formed, as has a Green Party, among others. The government has promised "free, democratic" elections for the National Assembly before the end of May 1990. Some of the opposition members have called for elections in May for part of the assembly seats, followed later in the year by further elections; this is in order to give the newly formed opposition parties more time to organize.

The current National Assembly, generally considered to be a "rubber stamp" Parliament, has begun to take some tentative steps toward independence. The Bulgarian media, although still state-owned and controlled, has made some effort at keeping pace with the political changes underway, and has reported accurately and objectively on opposition positions in many cases, although not in every instance.

After decades in which Bulgarian political development was marked by stability and lack of dissent, it has now entered a period in which many voices are being heard. It has taken some important initial steps toward greater freedom and respect for human rights, but it faces a difficult task in achieving true democracy.

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Philip DIMITROV
chancery: 1621 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 387-7969
FAX: [1] (202) 234-7973
consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Richard MILES
embassy: 1 Saborna Street, Sofia
mailing address: Unit 1335, APO AE 09213-1335
telephone: [359] (2) 980-52-41 through 48
FAX: [359] (2) 981-89-77



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