Bulgarian Parliament Approves Introduction of Compulsory Voting
The Bulgarian parliament approved on Thursday the introduction of compulsory voting after it adopted the first of the proposed set of amendments to the Electoral Code.
The introduction of compulsory voting had been approved by the parliamentary legal affairs committee earlier on Wednesday.
A total of 109 MPs voted in favour of compulsory voting, 74 lawmakers were against, while ten abstained.
With the approved amendment, voting is now classified as a civil duty rather than as a right.
Voters will be entitled to rewards, which will be determined by the Council of Ministers, while those not casting a ballot will be subject to penalties by being deregistered from the electoral roll.
Those deregistered will be able to be signed back on the electoral roll after submitting request to competent authorities.
The majority of the MPs from the largest ruling party GERB voted in favour, backed by all except one of the lawmakers from two of the parties supporting the coalition government – the Patriotic Front (PF) and the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV).
The majority of MPs from the junior coalition partner, the Reformist Bloc (RB), voted against or abstained, with only one MP voting in favour.
The two largest opposition parties – the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) voted against, saying it is unconstitutional and threatening to refer it to the Constitutional Court.
Voters not supporting any of the parties or candidates contesting the elections will be able to select the "Not voting for anyone" option on the ballot paper.
The compulsory voting is expected to be introduced at the forthcoming presidential elections, which are scheduled to take place in the autumn.
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