Primary Sources

Rewriting Article 1 of the Bulgarian Constitution

Description

In Bulgaria, the Communist Party led the movement toward democratic change. Following the legalization of several other political parties, the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) introduced legal reforms to the Bulgarian government. One of the most significant and notable of these changes was rewriting Article 1 of the Bulgarian constitution, which guaranteed a "leading role" for the Communist Party in all aspects of Bulgaria. In principle, this would allow other political parties to attain a majority in the Bulgarian government, potentially replacing the Communists in power. However, in practice this was part of the attempt of the Communist Party to remain in power by presenting itself as the advocate of democratic change. The positive changes are included in this dispatch from the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, but so is the Embassy's suspicion of the political actions of both the Communists and the Agrarian Party, which were acting in coordination.

Source

Sofia Embassy to U.S. Secretary of State, "First National Assembly Session Prepares to Remove Pro-Communist Clauses from Constitution," 15 December 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

  1. Summary. In its first day of its December session, the Bulgarian National Assembly has prepared the way for the January removal of constitutional clauses which guarantee the Communist Party a leading role in government and society. The Assembly also agreed to prepare a new land law within one month, voted against some State Council and Council of Minister's decrees for the first time in recent memory, made several personnel changes in the two councils, and accepted new draft laws for the penal code. End Summary.
  2. Taking its lead from the BCP Plenum at which the Party had endorsed the abolition of its legally mandated "leading role," the National Assembly voted in its first meeting to take action to remove clauses 2 and 3 from Article 1 of the Bulgarian constitution. Assemblymen were apparently prepared to remove the clauses at this session, but lawyers pointed out that Article 143 of the constitution requires that proposed amendments of the constitution cannot be made "earlier than one month ... after being submitted to the National Assembly." At this session, they could only vote in favor of a declaration to remove the clauses at the earliest possible moment. This virtually guarantees the abolition of the clauses at the Assembly's next session in January. (Note the Agrarians, along with the BCP, jointly introduced the bill.)

How to Cite this Source

U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, "Rewriting Article 1 of the Bulgarian Constitution," Making the History of 1989, Item #243, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/243 (accessed August 29 2014, 4:03 am).

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