Question marks loom larger over proposed new election code

Written by on February 20, 2014 in Bulgaria - No comments

Bulgaria’s members of Parliament spent several hours on February 20 voting on the second reading of the proposed new election code, but question marks continue to loom over the future of the controversial code.

Responding to media reports that the code might not be ready to take effect in time for Bulgaria’s May 25 2014 European Parliament elections, Maya Manolova – the Bulgarian Socialist Party MP who in 2013 was given the task of driving the code through the approval process – insisted that it would.

Manolova rejected claims that it would take “sittings until midnight” to complete voting on the bill.

Voting has been a stop-start process as the National Assembly more than once has lost a quorum amid dramas about provisions of the code.

Second-reading voting began on February 12 and was continuing on February 20, with the National Assembly voting to add five hours to its scheduled deadline to adjourn for the day, in an attempt to catch up on delays.

Manolova has said that she expects that President Rossen Plevneliev will veto the new election code and remarks by Plevneliev on February 20 appeared to confirm that this possibility cannot be ruled out.

Plevneliev said that he would await the conclusion of the process of voting to approve the bill before deciding on a veto.

He said that he had shown in the past two years, when imposing vetos, that this was done not to disrupt proceedings nor to play political partisan games, but was done on the basis of clear legal arguments.

Plevneliev indicated that he had been followed the debate in Parliament and that he had discussions with NGOs and civil society institutions about the matter.

He said that as soon as legal advice was given to him after the code was approved, he would act, to allow the prompt organisation of the European Parliament elections.

The BSP has said that it is determined that the European Parliament elections be held under the new code rather than that approved when centre-right GERB was in power. The BSP insists that the election code approved at the time of the previous ruling majority is deeply flawed.

In second-reading voting on February 20, provisions of the code concerning regulations and deadlines for registration and candidates were approved, as well rules on a multi-seat voting district system, and a proportional representation electoral system using these multi-seat voting districts. In voting, it will be possible to exercise a preferential vote in this system.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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