I exercise my right under the Constitution and return to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) the proposal to appoint Ivan Geshev as Bulgaria’s new Chief Prosecutor, President Rumen Radev said on November 6 in a statement regarding the election of a new Chief Prosecutor by SJC.
The Constitution assigns to the Chief Prosecutor functions that are of key importance for the justice, designed to achieve justice. That is why the election of Chief Prosecutor affects every Bulgarian citizen and should dispel any doubts as to whether the appointed person will defend the public interest, the rights of citizens and the rule of law. The constitution does not oblige me to give the reasons for the decree by which I appoint or return to the SJC a candidate proposed by SJC.
Radev added that he had expected “a real competition between candidates, not a formal execution of procedures” and noted that “the hallmark of a democratic state is the presence of an alternative.”
Nominating a single candidate not only deprives the procedure of competitiveness, but also takes away the prestige and legitimacy of the future Chief Prosecutor, which are so necessary for his difficult and responsible mission. What is more, a hallmark of a democratic state is the availability of alternatives in the occupation of senior state positions, he said.
The approach of nominating a sole candidate was also supported in practice by the executive branch, which, in the person of the Minister of Justice, refused to name a second candidate, leading to a complete lack of an alternative. Our society is particularly sensitive to the judiciary as being responsible for justice, and therefore the future Chief Prosecutor should have high public confidence. The expression of this public trust are opinions from the subjects listed in the Judiciary Act - non-governmental organizations, professional organizations of magistrates, higher education institutions and scientific organizations - ie. from civil society. Only such opinions are subject to publication on the SJC's website. Despite this clear legal position, numerous opinions were published by state institutions, including the executive, such as the Ministry of Interior, the State Agency for National Security (SANS), and the Chief Directorate for Combatting Organised Crime.
This way, in breach of the law, the massive institutional support was given more weight than the opinion of public organisations. The appointment of the Chief Prosecutor is an act of high public importance and the process should create trust in the society, not cause doubts, Radev said.
For these reasons, I exercise my right under the Constitution and return to the SJC the proposal for the appointment of Mr. Ivan Geshev as Chief Prosecutor of the Republic of Bulgaria, the President noted.
Ivan Geshev, who was the only candidate nominated for the post, was elected by the SJC on October 24, with 20 members of the Supreme Judicial Council voting in favour of his nomination and 4 against. The hearing, which lasted for almost 10 hours, was held amid protests against Geshev’s appointment that blocked streets in the country’s capital city Sofia.
The nomination is subject to approval by Bulgaria's Head of State, President Rumen Radev.
On that basis, the SJC submitted a proposal to the President to issue a Decree for the appointment of Ivan Geshev to the post of Chief Prosecutor.
Should the SJC confirm its initial appointment in a second vote, Radev would not have constitutional right to send the choice back to the council again.