Bulgaria MPs to Hold Urgent Session over Election Rules

Domestic | October 16, 2016, Sunday // 19:48|  views

File photo, BGNES

Bulgaria's main ruling party GERB is set to propose eleventh-hour amendments to the Electoral Code at an extraordinary Parliament session on Tuesday, party officials have said.

The announcement comes hours after both President Rosen Plevneliev and Ombudsman Maya Manolova confirmed their intention to refer sections of the code to the Constitutional Court.

GERB is to table changes that will remove the cap on the number of polling stations abroad, introduced on demand by the Patriotic Front coalition which backs the government earlier this year, amid popular discontent with the restriction that may prevent thousands of Bulgarian expats to cast ballots in the November 06 elections.

Another proposal will be to allow for more than a single ballot box to be placed in polling stations abroad to allow more people to vote.

Curbs to voting abroad have recently become a source of concern to both the Ombudsman, and the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), both warning thousands of Bulgarian expats may be unable to vote for President as no polling station can be opened in their location due to the newly imposed limit.

Separately, the "Not Voting for Anymore" option will have to be used in the calculation of final vote results, under GERB's new proposal. Currently, the self-styled "protest vote", introduced as MPs made it compulsory to cast ballots in elections, is designed to be part of voter turnout statistics, but is not calculated as part of the final result. President Plevneliev on Sunday said he would refer the issue to the Constitutional Court.

The announcement was made by GERB's presidential candidate Tsetska Tsacheva, her running mate Plamen Manushev, and GERB deputy head Tsvetan Tsvetanov at a press conference in Targovishte, a town where campaigning events were to take place.

GERB's campaign interrupted for the purpose of the plenary session, they added.

Thursday's lawmaker session comes as regular plenary meetings were adjourned for the rest of the month and a week into November, with a majority backing an "election holiday" for MPs.

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Tags: GERB, electoral code, Bulgarians abroad, Presidential elections, Constitutional Court, Rosen Plevneliev, Maya Manolova, CEC


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