Bulgarians in Belgium to Stage Flashmob over Changes to Election Law

Politics » DOMESTIC | April 23, 2016, Saturday // 17:51
Bulgaria: Bulgarians in Belgium to Stage Flashmob over Changes to Election Law

Bulgarians living and working in Belgium are set to hold a flashmob in front of the Bulgarian representative of the EU's office, organizers have said.

The event has been scheduled for 18:00 at 49, Square Marie-Louise in Brussels and is targeting the new election rules approved (and some still pending approval) by Bulgarian lawmakers which, organizers say, will hinder them from casting a ballot even though they also turn voting into an obligation.

In a statement emailed to media outlets and signed by Sylvia Atipova, a writer who currently lives in Belgium, has lashed out at amendments to Bulgaria's Electoral Code on behalf of Bulgarian nationals residing in the country.

The statement refers to lawmakers' decision to approve changes to the Electoral Code making it compulsory to vote, imposing deregistration from electoral rolls of Bulgarians who have been unable to cast a ballot, and a ban on opening polling stations anywhere out of Bulgarian diplomatic missions abroad.

However, Bulgarian lawmakers "refused to create the "Foreign" constituency which had been part of [the main governing party] GERB and [its junior coalition partner] the Reformist Bloc's electoral platforms."

MPs had initially embraced the idea to create a "Foreign" constituency representing the votes of Bulgarians abroad. Under current legislation, their ballots are allocated to the other 31 constituencies of the country. However, the amendment was voted down.

"They virtually made it impossible to vote from abroad by revoking the possibility to open polling stations out of consulates and embassies. So that 2 000 000 [sic] Bulgarian citizens abroad are unable to interfere with their subtle electoral calculations."

Some 2-2.5 million Bulgarian citizens are thought to have left the country since the democratic changes of the 1990s. The total figure of voters they constitute is not clear, with minors having Bulgarian citizenship not being eligible voters.

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Tags: election law, electoral code, Belgium, Sylvia Antipova, flashmob
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