The Ombudsman in the Policy Debates on Constitutional Reform in Europeanising Bulgaria

Madlen Nikolova, University of Sheffield

This paper reviews the policy debates among think tank and governmental experts regarding the establishment of the Ombudsman institution in Bulgaria in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The contribution problematises the concept of the Ombudsman in the context of wider constitutional reforms in Eastern European countries awaiting accession to the European Union. I argue that the setting up of this institution served in part to constrain citizens' access to the Constitutional Court, despite its promise to democratise it. Along with that, the ombudsman was to provide assistance to citizens who wish to complain of breaches of their rights, but exclusively against public institutions and companies. The institution of the ombudsman is thus central to processes of neoliberalisation of government, informed by a constant suspicion of the state’s inclination to violate individual rights and a blindness to violations of human rights by agents outside of the institutions of the state proper.

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 Presented in Session 176. Expertise, the State, and the Past