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The President, elected for a 5-year term, is head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. The President's main duties are to schedule elections and referenda, represent Bulgaria abroad, conclude international treaties, and head the Consultative Council for National Security. The President may return legislation to Parliament for further debate--a kind of veto--but the legislation can be passed again by a simple majority vote. Petar Stoyanov, the candidate of a united opposition coalition led by the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), was nominated to run for President in the country's first primary election in June 1996. Stoyanov was elected in November and inaugurated in January 1997.

The legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly of 240 members elected to 4-year terms. Political parties must garner a minimum of 4% of the national vote in order to enter Parliament. Parliament is responsible for enactment of laws, approval of the budget, scheduling of presidential elections, selection and dismissal of the Prime Minister and other ministers, declaration of war and deployment of troops outside of Bulgaria, and ratification of international treaties and agreements.

The BSP won the first post-communist parliamentary elections in 1990 with a small majority. The BSP government formed at that time was brought down by a general strike in late 1990 and replaced by a transitional coalition government. Meanwhile, Zhelyu Zhelev, a communist-era dissident, was elected President by the Parliament in 1990 and later won Bulgaria's first direct presidential elections, in 1992. Zhelev served until early 1997. The country's first fully democratic parliamentary elections, in November 1991, ushered in another coalition government, which was led by the pro-reform Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) in partnership with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). This coalition collapsed in late 1992, however, and was succeeded by a technocratic team, put forward by the MRF, which governed at the sufferance of the BSP for 2 years. The BSP won pre-term elections in December 1994 and remained in office until February 1997, when a populace alienated by the BSP's failed, corrupt government demanded its resignation and called for new elections. A caretaker cabinet appointed by the President served until pre-term parliamentary elections in April 1997, which yielded a landslide victory for pro-reform forces led by the UDF in the United Democratic Forces coalition. Along with the UDF, there are five other parties represented in Parliament.

The Council of Ministers is the principal organ of the executive branch. It is usually formed by the majority party in Parliament, if one exists, or by the largest party in Parliament along with coalition partners. Chaired by the Prime Minister, it is responsible for carrying out state policy, managing the state budget, and maintaining law and order. The Council must resign if the National Assembly passes a vote of no confidence in the Council or the Prime Minister.

Bulgaria's judicial system is independent and is managed by the Supreme Judicial Council. Its principal elements are the Supreme Court of Administration and the Supreme Court of Cassation, which oversee application of all laws by the lower courts and judge the legality of government acts. There is a separate Constitutional Court, which interprets the Constitution and rules on the constitutionality of laws and treaties.

Six out of the 34 political parties and coalitions that fielded candidates in the last election are represented in Parliament. The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) recaptured Parliament in April 1997 with 123 seats out of 240. Its electoral coalition partner, the People's Union, carried 14 seats. Also in that election, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) dropped from its 1994 majority of 125 seats to 58. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) formed the Alliance for National Salvation with several smaller parties, taking 19 seats. The two other parties are the Euroleft (comprised largely of defectors from the BSP with a social-democratic orientation), which holds 14 seats and the populist Bulgarian Business Bloc which holds 12. The next parliamentary elections must take place no later than April 2001.

Principal Government Officials
President--Petar Stoyanov
Vice President--Todor Kavaldjiev
Prime Minister--Ivan Kostov
Ambassador to the United States--Snezhana Botusharova
Ambassador to the United Nations--Filip Dimitrov

The Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the United States is located at 1621 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel. 202-387-7969; fax. 202-123-7973.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria
conventional short form: Bulgaria

Data code: BU

Government type: parliamentary democracy

Capital: Sofia

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Burgas, Grad Sofiya, Khaskovo, Lovech, Montana, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofiya, 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); 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); Deputy Prime Minister Petur ZHOTEV (since 21 December 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the National Assembly
elections: 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; deputy prime ministers nominated by the prime minister
election results: Petar STOYANOV elected president; percent of vote - Petar STOYANOV 59.73%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sobranie (240 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 19 April 1997 (next to be held NA 2001)
election results: percent of vote by party - UtdDF 52%, BSP 22%, ANS 7%, Euro-left 5.5%, BBB 4.95%; seats by party - UtdDF 137, BSP 58, ANS 19, Euro-left 14, BBB 12; note - seating as of May 1997: UtdDF 126, DL 58, ANS 19, Euro-left 17, PU 11, independents 9

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

Political parties and leaders: 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]; Bulgarian Socialist Party or BSP [Georgi PURVANOV, chairman]; Democratic Left of DL [leader NA]; Euro-left [Aleksandur TOMOV]; Movement for Rights and Freedoms or DPS (member of LDU) [Ahmed DOGAN]; People's Union or PU [Anastasiya MOZER]; Union of Democratic Forces or UtdDF (an alliance of pro-democratic parties) [Ivan KOSTOV]

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

International organization participation: ACCT, BIS, BSEC, CCC, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, G- 9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UPU, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Philip DIMITROV
chancery: 1621 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 387-0174, 387-0365, 483-1386
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: American Embassy Sofia, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-5740
telephone: [359] (2) 980-52-41 through 48
FAX: [359] (2) 981-89-77

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)