Bulgarian President Rumen Radev announced April 4th as the date of the parliamentary elections.
“I signed the decree for the elections on April 4, one week after the first date when elections could take place,” the Bulgarian president said in a speech.
At a time when institutions are running out of trust and are shrinking like sidewalks, elections are becoming crucial. Although it has long been known that these elections will be held amid a pandemic, no body has taken any action. Thanks to everyone who responded to my call for consultation. I focused the public’s attention on the need for adequate measures to address the problems during the elections, the president added.
“The pandemic showed it could serve not only as a challenge but also as an opportunity, because decisions have been made that are long overdue. The Central Election Commission assured me that the last batch of machines will be delivered 25 days before election day. I expect the Central Election Commission to take action to update the voter lists. The events of last year clearly showed that the Bulgarians want change. To overcome the deep crisis, reforms and modernization require immediate implementation, to have a legitimate parliament and a functioning government.”
“Competent authorities must announce clear health measures, which are vital to the election campaign and turnout.
Providing the state with personal protective equipment for both the election administration and every Bulgarian voter is an important step in this direction. The significance of the changes to the electoral code stood out, which should not be limited to securing the voting right of quarantined people, Radev said.
I expect the legislature to vote on other no less important amendments, such as mail-in voting for Bulgarians abroad, which will be severely hampered even by the inability to vote, video surveillance at polling stations and the transmission of the counting process. Equitable access to the media by all during the election campaign, elimination of manual counting, automatic voting,” Radev said.
The GERB reacted immediately, with ruling party MP Toma Bikov saying he would not table any of the amendments the president had requested to the electoral code. It is proposed that in the short time remaining until the end of the term of the current Parliament, amendments be made to the electoral legislation, which concern its foundations. Such an approach would undermine confidence in the electoral process, Bikov explained.
Atanas Zafirov, vice-president of the main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), said that if there was good organization, reasonable changes could be made to the Electoral Code. The idea of mail-in voting was good, undoable, as too much time would be wasted. /ibna