Election Fraud in Bulgaria: 12-17 Percent of Voting Sections Exposed to Risk of Vote Trading
Between 12 and 17 per cent of all voting sections in the April 4 general elections in Bulgaria were at a high risk for vote trading, according to a new study of the Anti-Corruption Fund (ACF) that was presented on Thursday.
The ACF team looked in detail at data from the latest elections and matched them with statistics from all elections between 2013 and 2019, to identify the at-risk sections. The result is an interactive map that shows the magnitude of the problem and provides a useful tool for the law-enforcing authorities in combatting vote trading and voter control.
The authors of the analysis, criminologist Maria Karayotova, PhD and political scientist Mario Roussinov, used four indicators to identify the high-risk voting sections: unusually high voter turnout in the section; unusually high result for the party with the most votes in the section compared with its overall performance in the respective municipality; dramatic differences in the results in two consecutive elections; and dramatic change of political preferences in two consecutive elections.
In the 2021 elections, between 1,491 and 2,101 sections, or 12-17 per cent of all, were at risk for one or several of these indicators. This is an increase of 5 per cent from the 2017 elections.
Between 283,650 and 409,865 of Bulgarian voters cast their ballot in the high-risk sections, which is 9-13 per cent of all cast votes in Bulgaria.
The largest number of high-risk sections was in the Kurdjali constituency - between 31 and 41 per cent. A total of 29 per cent of votes in Kurdjali were cast in the high-risk sections.
The risk of vote buying and controlled votes was also high in Montana,Turgovishte, Shoumen and Vratsa in the north of the country, and Pazardjik and Sliven in the south.
On the level of municipality, the risk was highest in the municipalities of Kirkovo, Krivodol, Pavel Banya Septemvri and Tervel
The bought and controlled vote had a biggest share in Bourgas constituency (8 per cent), followed by Kurdjali (7 per cent).
The ACF study analysis found that the bulk of votes from the high-risk sections in the 2021 elections was shared between the formerly ruling GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). They get 31 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) gets 12 per cent and There Is Such a People, 7 per cent.
For comparison, in 2017 MRF had 26 per cent, GERB 24 per cent and BSP 19 per cent.
Bought and controlled votes had the most weight for MRF (27 per cent). Next come Republicans for Bulgaria (13 per cent), GERB (11 per cent), Volya-NFSB (8 per cent) and BSP (7 per cent).
ACF has sent its findings to the Interior Ministry and is hopeful that they will be put to good use as the caretaker Interior Minister and the government in general has vowed to make fair elections and combatting vote trade its priority. BTA
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