Round Table on Election Code Overhaul Held in Bulgaria

Domestic | June 18, 2013, Tuesday // 13:16|  views

The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Maya Manolova, from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, photo by BGNES

Bulgarian citizens want a full overhaul of the Election Code, according to the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Maya Manolova.

Manolova, a Member of the Parliament from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, called Tuesday a round table with representatives of civic organizations, NGOs, and citizens to hear their proposals for amending the Election Code.

About 70 people attended. It emerged after the meeting that not only the election law will be amended, but also the Political Parties, the National Audit Office, and the Citizens' Voting Registration Acts will be subject to changes.

Manolova says the Tuesday sitting was the first step in the revamping of election rules. The establishment of an ad hoc parliamentary committee for the amendments is forthcoming with civil organizations and NGO's having a major part in the process where all their proposals will be summarized and included in the legislation.

The left wing is proposing to implement electronic voting, to increase until then civil control on the printing of ballots and on the ballot count, to alleviate as much as possible the process of registering to vote and of the actual voting, new rules for electing members of the Central Electoral Commission, (CEC), updating accurately voters' lists, and clear rules for election campaigning, including its reporting in the media.

Elena Vatashka, from the Association of Bulgarian Football Fans asked to have all NGOs disclose their sources of financing; eliminate State subsidies for political parties or reduce them to EUR 0.5 per vote cast; bind voting rights with certain education levels, and preliminary registration of voters in order to clean the voting lists.

She threatened a human chain around the Parliament in case these demands are not met.

Bulgarian poet and dissident Nikolay Kolev, also known as 'Bosiya' (Barefoot) proposed to incriminate the act of preparing false voting lists.

Angel Slavchev from "Civil Control," known as active participant and organizer of the February protests against poverty and monopolies, said a round table on Election Code amendments must be established with rules for its work; with the inclusion of the Ombudsman and of two former constitutional judges as its members, who are to meet once a week.

Nayden Kirilov, a lawyer representing the initiative committee for the launch of a new party "Republic BG," noted the Political Parties Act must be amended as well, and listed as main problems the short deadlines and the large number of signatures required to register a party. He added the majority vote must be reinstated as well.

Antoaneta Tsoneva, from the Institute for Public Environment Development, proposed a long list of changes such as including the methodology of determining election results in the Election Code; CEC making public on its site the code of the software used to calculate the vote; informing citizens how and on what grounds they can submit complaints with the institutions involved in the election process; making CEC a permanent body; publishing all protocols of their meetings on the CEC internet site within 3 days after the meeting; listing the rights and duties of independent monitors in the Election Code; security measures in the printing, storage, and distribution of ballots.

Tsoneva further asked for a second count of ballots at voting polls where the invalid ones end up being twice more than the average for the country; for a definition of political advertisement and disclosing all paid political content in the media; for free of charge time slots for political campaign ads in public media; for reinstating the preferential vote; for reducing the number of signatures required to register an independent candidate to 3 000 or no more than 1% of the number of voters in the particular region.

The next round meeting is tentatively scheduled for a week from now.

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Tags: Round Table, Election Code, election, elections, amendments, rules, CEC, electronic voting, NGOs. citizens, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Maya Manolova, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP


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