The semi‐presidential regime in Bulgaria is of recent origin: it was established in July 1991, when a Great National Assembly adopted a new constitution, which proclaims that ‘Bulgaria shall be a republic with a parliamentary form of government’; the emphasis on ‘parliamentary’ highlights the subordinate role of the president, who is elected directly by the voters for period five years. Even though the framers of the constitution deliberately created a dual structure of the executive branch, the text of the fundamental law envisages a mode of distribution of prerogatives that is heavily skewed in favour of the legislature and a cabinet accountable to the deputies. It is difficult, however, to sustain a claim that a general pattern of leadership is beginning to emerge under Bulgarian semi‐presidentialism, since the country has only had two presidents under its new constitution; the closest to a valid generalization which may be ventured in the light of the evidence is that, while parliament enjoys supremacy over law‐making and the government remains the primary site of executive decision‐making, the rapports between these two institutions and the presidency have varied dramatically, with the influence of the head of state running the gamut from almost complete exclusion to a palpable ability to shape agendas. The purpose of this chapter is to identify and analyse the ways in which constitutionally designed patterns of institutional interaction shift in response to changes in the social and economic environment rather than to chronicle events—the analysis is conceived as a chronology of the successive problems with which political actors had to cope. The three sections of the chapter are: Constitutional Balance of Power; Presidential/Parliamentary Relations; and Conclusion.
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