Interior Minister Vows “No Mercy” for Vote Buying in October Elex
Caretaker Interior Minister Yordan Bakalov on Monday vowed “no mercy’’ for vote buying at the upcoming elections and ruled out a repeat of Kostinbrod fake ballots scandal.
Signalling resolve to crack down on vote buying that has marred every Bulgarian election since 1989, Bakalov said he would personally handcuff anyone found to have bought votes irrespective of their political colour.
Bakalov told bTV channel he had ordered police to track down everyone found to have been involved in buying votes in elections held in Bulgaria since 2009 but did not give details what further steps would be taken against them.
Bakalov also said he is considering launching a Civil Board with the Interior Ministry to boost transparency in the election process but gave no details.
In May 2013, officers of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) seized 350,000 fake ballot papers in a printing shop in Kostinbrod near Sofia just a day before Bulgaria held early elections. The ballot papers had allegedly been prepared to manipulate election results in favour of centre-right GERB party, whose cabinet had resigned three months earlier, opening the way for the snap vote.
The printing shop’s owner had said the seized amount was smaller and the ballot papers were not intended for use in the vote but were rather technological waste paper from the printing press kept in a warehouse to be safely discarded after the vote, as required by election rules.
According to Bakalov, a repeat of the scandal will be impossible as ballot papers for October 5 vote will be printed at the central bank’s printing house where Bulgaria’s lev notes are produced.
The Central Electoral Commission has already said that the process of printing of ballot papers for the upcoming election is more intensely monitored than production of lev notes, Bakalov said.
“There is no way for Kostinbrod to be repeated. If it is repeated, this will mean the same could happen to Bulgarian lev notes,” he said.
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