The Bulgarian Constitutional Court as an additional legislative chamber


Chris Hanretty


April 17, 2014


Although not the most prolific of courts, the Bulgarian Constitutional Court (BCC) has now made enough decisions for us to begin characterising its decision making. Generally, decision making on the BCC is characterised by a low caseload dominated by referrals from parliament, by a high level of dissent, and by dissent that in turn is characterised by a disagreement between left- and right-wing judges. I make these claims on the basis of an analysis of BCC decisions over the period 1991 to 2010, and in particular on the basis of an analysis of judges’ dissenting votes as the expression of an underlying latent trait. I argue that this latent trait should be interpreted as a left–right dimension, both because the positions on this latent dimension match descriptions of judges’ politics and the politics of those who appointed, and because court majorities from the right end of the recovered dimension are often found when ruling in favour of right-wing opposition groups. On the basis of these findings, I argue for an interpretation of the BCC as an additional legislative chamber, comparable in this respect to the French Conseil Constitutionnel.


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Hanretty, Chris. 2014. “The Bulgarian Constitutional Court as an Additional Legislative Chamber.” East European Politics & Societies and Cultures 28 (3): 540–58.