Bulgaria's GERB Embraces Change of Electoral System after Referendum

Business | November 15, 2016, Tuesday // 07:01
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's GERB Embraces Change of Electoral System after Referendum Boyko Borisov, hours before announcing plans to resign on Sunday, called for a full slash in state subsidies. File photo, BGNES

The party of Bulgaria's outgoing Prime Minister in resignation has submitted the three questions posed in a three-point referendum to Parliament.

This comes after GERB party had been skeptical about some of the referendum proposals for months.

But earlier in November, Bulgarian voters overwhelmingly backed the introduction of a first-past-the-post system, compulsory voting (which was made a law in the summer) and a drastic cut in subsidies earned by political parties per vote cast in parliamentary elections. The result did not became binding as turnout fell just 13 000 votes short of the threshold that would have obligated MPs to change the law. 

GERB has made no amendments to the three questions and has submitted them as proposals to change the voting laws.

The Bulgarian National Television shows party officials saying their move is driven by a desire to follow the "will of the people as it was stated."

Such a move, if approved, would result in an overhaul of the electoral system. MPs are now elected under a method of proportional representation, with voting in a constituency sending to Parliament candidates from several parties.

It is not clear, however, what kind of a majority system MPs would go for when the proposal is discussed since no specific type was included in the referendum question. The only detail, to which Bulgarians said "yes", was that voting should have two rounds.

GERB's proposal only includes the election of one MP in each of 240 constituencies with runoffs between leading candidates.

The question about state subsidies was whether these should be reduced from BGN 11 to BGN 1 per vote received.

On Sunday, Borisov said his party might call for entirely abolishing the state subsidy.

The decision of GERB to submit the draft amendments comes after the government it led stepped down amid a voter backlash against its presidential candidate, Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva.

Borisov resigned on Monday, hours after Tsacheva lost the presidential election, and political newcomer Rumen Radev won.  

The referendum organizers had said their poll, held alongside the election's first round, would be a blow to the entire political class. 


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Tags: GERB, Referendum, majority system, subsidies

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