Bulgaria's Govt Parties Agree to Change Election Rules Weeks before Vote

Domestic | October 17, 2016, Monday // 22:22|  views

File photo, BGNES

The three partners forming or backing Bulgaria's minority cabinet have finally reached a compromise to amend the Electoral Code after an emergency meeting, removing a cap on the number of poling stations outside Bulgaria.

However, the measure will only be enforced with regard to EU member states, amid fears from the Patriotic Front (a nationalist coalition that supports the government but has no minister in it) that the lack of restriction to the number of stations would allow ill-regulated voting from across Turkey.

The issue drew anger from Bulgarian expats, who believe a cap on the number of polling stations abroad (they cannot number more than 35 under the law adopted in the spring) will hinder some of them from casting ballots as no stations will be opened at some venues.

In addition, a "protest vote" option (with which voters declare they are "Not Voting for Anyone" under conditions of compulsory elections) will be included in the final count when elections are using a majority system such as those for President and Parliament.

Under the current rules, the option is used to measure the voter turnout but is not counted in the final results. Some experts, but also President Rosen Plevneliev, voiced their concerns there is controversy in a method that may allow the distribution of support from "protesting voters" to any of the candidates if their share is not taken into account in the final result.

An inclusion of the "protest vote" in the final result of general elections, however, is not possible since it will naturally push up the threshold to enter Parliament.

Meeting up on Tuesday, PM Boyko Borisov's GERB party, the Reformist Bloc, and the Patriotic Front agreed to add changes to election rules less than three weeks before the vote takes place, in a country where changes to the respective legislation is deemed improper if it comes less than six months before an election.

Parties also underlined their pledge to stand behind the government and preserve stability, in a poisonous atmosphere in which some of the remarks between Borisov's party and the Reformist Bloc reached levels of obscenity in the past few days.

A formal vote on the new rules is due in Parliament on Tuesday.

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Tags: election rules, Bulgarians abroad, Presidential elections, GERB, Reformist Bloc, Patriotic Front


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