Bulgaria: Voters getting cold feet with Election Day just around the corner

Bulgaria: Voters getting cold feet with Election Day just around the corner

Bulgaria is hitting the home stretch in view of the April 4th elections, with only two days of campaigning left. The pandemic rendered the campaign of the parliamentary elections for the 45th National Assembly of Bulgaria rather unique, due to all the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. During the last month, have the candidate parties and coalitions managed to impress the bulk of undecided voters?

“Undoubtedly, the situation was peculiar and this made it difficult for most parties, especially the emerging ones,” sociologist Zivko Georgiev said in an interview with the Bulgarian National Radio (BER). “On the other hand, this campaign gave the parties the opportunity to find the appropriate communication techniques and more skillfully presented ideas, a possibility that I feel they did not take full advantage of.”

“I was not impressed by the election campaign. I cannot find ideas and figures that will push me to vote”, these are the most common answers in journalist Dobromir Tsvetkov’s poll for VER’s Horizont program.

“I will vote, but I have not decided yet,” a citizen from Sofia says. “There is no time left, but there is the day of reflection and until then I hope to have made up my mind. In any case, I will vote. I do not evaluate the election campaign so positively, I do not think it is serious enough and sufficient. I watched the debates, but I did not see anything that would attract me to the party programs.”

“I will not vote,” another citizen adamantly states. “I have not voted once in the last 30 years. The election campaign cannot convince us, and that is because there are no candidates to make us vote for them.”

Citizens believe there is no real discussion and conflict of ideas in the election campaign. Quarantine prevents candidates from having actual contact with potential voters. Some point out that discussions in the media can deter them from participating in the vote and not the other way around.

“What we managed to observe during the campaign does not provide a clear answer as to what will happen on election day,” sociologist Zivko Georgiev explains.

“Did the parties manage to find the right way to approach their voters? Whether the parties’ presence in the media was complemented by the usual, more direct contacts with the voters, whom we usually do not see, and the way this campaign was organized will become evident from the way Election Day goes down.”

During the pre-election debates in the media, the leaders of the major parties seemed to avoid a lively on-air debate, depriving citizens of the opportunity to watch a leading clash of ideas. What is the reason for this?

“The bitter truth is that we do not have a convincing leadership at party level. Many of the so-called leaders have been exhausted, they have lost their potential,” the sociologist explains. “Some new faces appeared, but they were overwhelmed by a series of circumstances – the epidemic situation which limited their possibilities for more, non-traditional appearances, obviously played a role, alongside lack of resources. Let us not fool ourselves; funds, the media, public resources are more accessible to the ruling parties. Finally, the mainstream media failed to find the right form to challenge their guests, which would help voters make an informed decision and be motivated to participate in the electoral process.”

Zivko Georgiev predicts turnout will be around 50% on April 4. As he says, there will be surprises in the voting results if more than 3 million people vote. The political formations that will enter the next parliament will be 5 to 8, emphasizing that it will be very difficult to form a governing coalition, which paves the way for new early elections. /ibna

Source: Bulgarian National Radio