Parliament Votes to Enlarge Bulgaria's Electoral Body
Bulgarian lawmakers adopted at first reading changes to the recently-approved Election Code, adding one member to the Central Electoral Commission.
The election watchdog will increase its staff from 19 to 20 if the measure voted on Thursday gains further support.
The amendment, proposed by center-right opposition GERB was also backed by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), which has ministers in the government, and only met the dissent of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, Bulgaria's website Dariknews.bg reported.
Ultra-nationalist party Ataka, which usually sides with the BSP on most issues, decided to abstain.
Earlier this week GERB suggested that the 19-strong CEC be enhanced so that the DPS could get one more member.
DPS and GERB have shown their unity on the issue over the last days.
It comes after a week-long dispute in mid-March over a controversial decision by Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev to appoint 6 GERB and 5 BSP members at the Commission instead of 5 for each of the two biggest parties, meaning DPS would have only one seat instead of two, which they claim "under the law".
Both Socialists and ethnic Turkish DPS saw his decision as a reason to deny GERB the position of deputy chairperson at the vote in Parliament, choosing Ataka's nominee Maria Musorlieva instead.
The matter was later settled at a meeting in the city of Kurdzhali, where leaders of DPS and GERB managed to overcome differences and DPS's leader Lyutvi Mestan said he would not insist on the deputy chair's seat for their party, thus paving the way for GERB's proposal Margarita Zlatareva to take the office.
Experts have suggested that quotas for the Central Electoral Commission's leadership are not key to winning elections, hinting that discussions among parliamentary parties are fueled by their will to have more control at the Commission for their own purposes.
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