Left-wing Party Threatens to Leave Bulgaria's Govt over Election Code

Politics » DOMESTIC | April 23, 2016, Saturday // 13:57
Bulgaria: Left-wing Party Threatens to Leave Bulgaria's Govt over Election Code BGNES

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Ivaylo Kalfin has made clear if ABV, a left-wing party which he represents in the cabinet, will quit the government coalition if the Electoral Code being voted is adopted in its current form.

Kalfin has told Darik Radio some of the new election rules stipulated in the in the draft code do not correpond to agreements secured between the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV) and PM Boyko Borisov's GERB party when the government coalition was being formed in November of 2014.

The new election rules, of which not all have been passed yet by Parliament, have become an bone of contention for parties in Bulgaria's Parliament.

They include highly disputed issues such as the introduction of compulsory voting (which was adopted earlier this week), a reduction of the time foreseen for the election campaign, and a ban on the announcement of poll results during the campaign.

The restriction of options to vote abroad to consular services and embassies, banning the use of other locations as polling stations, has also been divisive, with opponents warning it infringes the rights of Bulgarian expats who are estimated by some sources to number around two million (not all of them being eligible voters).

"I am serious when saying that [if the draft] passes through full Parliament the way it did through the committee, it will bring this coalition to an end. I don't see how we can support the ludcrous things being done in Parliament. It is a huge infringement to the rights of Bulgarian citizens," Kalfin has explained in an interview with Darik.

He has described the controversial text under which voting shall be made compulsory as "unacceptable" and "absurd", referring to "the way it was done."

"It will draw away many precisely those active people who are supposed to vote."

"You are obligated to vote, you are allowed not to support anyone, though, and your vote counts and goes to the big parties. They forcefully take your vote away."

Lawmakers earlier approved the inclusion of a "Not voting for anyone" option in the ballot papers, a move some opposition parties and experts have warned would create a higher election threshold for parties to make it into Parliament (the current one being 4%)

Kalfin has also protested against the decision to limit voting abroad to diplomatic missions and not to open polling stations elsewhere, saying it does not match the realities of Bulgaria's dispersed expat communities.

Meanwhile ABV's Deputy Chair Rumen Petkov has said the new election laws are "anything but a democratic and informed choice of the Bulgarian citizen".

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Tags: Ivaylo Kalfin, ABV, Alternative for Bulgarian Revival, election law, elec
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