'Independent' Bulgarian MP Tables Mandatory Vote Bill

Domestic | June 11, 2014, Wednesday // 16:19|  views

Independent MPs like Rumen Yonchev (L) and Georgi Markov, who have been independent MPs for months now, have given Bulgaria without Censorship grounds to claim it is in Parliament despite not having been elected. Photo by BGNES

Rumen Yonchev, a former socialist lawmaker and now officially independent, has introduced a bill envisaging election legislation amendments that favour mandatory voting.

His move comes after the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)'s leader Sergey Stanishev voiced his proposal that Bulgaria make it compulsory for its citizens to cast a ballot.

Yonchev, who left the BSP in February but retained his seat in Parliament, declared allegiance to the newly-established party Bulgaria without Censorship, which now claims to have a few more lawmakers in the legislative body despite not having run at national elections.

He told the Bulgarian National Radio that his suggestions for changes to the Election code (which was approved earlier in 2014) include the introduction of means to "encourage" those who vote and financial sanctions for those who refuse to do so.

A five-percent tax abatement is among the stimuli envisaged under the fresh bill, Yonchev explained.

Fines for not having cast a ballot could be between BGN 5 and BGN 25, but could increase if a person defies the prospective law for a second time.

The lawmaker also believes it is up to the state to ensure that a sufficient number of sections are opened abroad so that Bulgarian citizens living there could carry out a duty to vote if such comes into force.

Options of the introduction of mandatory voting have been on the agenda in Bulgaria since last week, but the idea has so far had mixed reception.

Some believe a similar measure would curb the share of controlled vote.

Others interpret Sergey Stanishev's proposal as either a means to curtail an allegedly excessive influence of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) in politics or as a desperate attempt by Stanishev to cling to power within his party after being under significant pressure to resign following a crushing defeat at the European elections.

Bulgaria is also in the midst of a political deadlock, with day-to-day policies being put forward or implemented in the light of looming early elections, even though no date has yet been pointed.

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Tags: mandatory voting, compulsory voting, Rumen Yonchev, Bulgaria without Censorship, Independent, Sergey Stanishev, BSP, DPS, early elections


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