Ban on Surveys in Bulgaria's Voting Campaigns Infringes Free Speech - PollstersDomestic | April 20, 2016, Wednesday // 19:16| views
The opinion research companies that have signed the open letter consider the move to be "discriminatory" as it concerns only rights of citizens and not those of politicians. File photo, BGNES
The Bulgarian Association of Marketing and Opinion Researchers (BAMOR) has lashed out at a recent draft amendment which would make it illegal to announce results of opinion polls while an election campaign is unfolding.
Currently, a ban is in place on the announcement of exit polls for the respective election day until 19:00. However, for years some pollsters have been going around the ban by publishing "fake" poll results containing hidden voter preferences.
Earlier, Parliament's legal affairs committee adopted changes that, if approved by the plenary of lawmakers, would outlaw the announcement of results of opinion polls throughout the length of the election campaign.
"The introduction of such a ban violates the right to mutual informedness, freedom of speech and expression. Such a practice only exists in totalitarian states and was known to Bulgarian citizens in the period before 1989," reads an open letter by BAMOR to government and parliament officials and sent out to the media.
BAMOR also argues the move will pave the way for manipulations through the opportunity to throw election polls into the public space without any organization assuming responsibility.
The ban is also "discriminatory as it does not place restrictions on parties' right to order surveys for the elections, but only on citizens' right to be informed."
The text is addressed to Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva and the head of the legislature's legal affairs committee, Danail Kirilov (who has been the driving force behind the ongoing changes to the Electoral Code), with copies to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, President Rosen Plevneliev, and National Ombudsman Maya Manolova.
It is signed by 13 of the leading polling companies in Bulgaria.
Some names of key organizations are not in the list of signatories as they are not BAMOR members, but have already criticized the draft legislation.