The parties in Bulgaria’s recently formed coalition government are deeply at odds over the requirement that MPs must have vaccine certificates to enter the parliament.
A deputy enters the plenary hall in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 21 July 2021. EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV
It is not rising prices or reforms but whether MPs should provide vaccine certification against COVID-19, or negative test results on entering state institutions, that has become the hot topic in Bulgaria’s new parliament and the ruling coalition.
Far-right “Revival” (“Vazrajdane”) and one of the ruling coalition parties, “There’s Such People”, on Thursday demanded that the measure, accepted by the parliament’s health commission on January 5, be lifted, as not all MPs were aware of the meeting and health experts from the two parties could not take part in it.
“There’s Such a People” questioned the politics of coalition partners and recent winning party “We Continue the Change”, which have made increased vaccination a top priority, and side with parliament newcomers “Uprising”, which gained popularity for their pandemic denialist rhetoric.
On Thursday “Revival” leader Kostadin Kostadinov also called for protests against the requirements аs well as a moratorium on all protective measures until a new agreement is reached.
“The management of the health risk in the parliament is an act of staggering negligence. Revival and ‘There’s Such a People’ are morally responsible for this,” wrote on social media Alexander Simidchiev, one of the known media medical professionals and a member of Democratic Bulgaria, one of the parties in the ruling coalition.
The topic of vaccination has been a conflict in the making since the creation of the coalition. Since coming to power, the new Prime Minister and former e4conomy minister and “We Continue the Change” co-leader Kiril Petkov repeatedly said certificates should be mandatory for MPs and state officials, as they should abide by the same rules as regular citizens.
While “We Continue the Change” and Democratic Bulgaria are targeting increasing inoculation, members of the other two coalition partners, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and “There’s Such a People”, have been connected to anti-vax statements.
“None of the measures taken in our country works. COVID-19 goes around regardless of whether you wear a mask or not, whether you have 3, 4 or 5 vaccines, or have an amulet in the form of a certificate,” “There’s Such a People MP Toshko Yordanov told a TV interview on Wednesday.
Paradoxically, “There’s Such a People” leader and talk show host Slavi Trifonov previously highlighted the need for inoculation in a rare TV interview in August, stating: “Whoever plays with the anti-vaxxers, plays with death.”
The requirement for certificates for vaccination, also called green certificates, or providing a negative test/proof of recovery from COVID-19, became mandatory to enter indoor establishments on October 21. At the time, “Revival” organised several protests against the measures, which came as Bulgaria was bracing for new general elections held on November 14.
The rule is rarely followed, even in malls and entertainment centres. Amid a surge in infections and the first confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova stated on January 4 that the current measures will be more strictly monitored by the authorities in future.
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