Bulgaria’s 2014 European Parliament elections: Numbers, names and rules

Written by on April 23, 2014 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria’s 2014 European Parliament elections: Numbers, names and rules

The official campaign period in Bulgaria’s May 25 2014 European Parliament elections starts on April 25.

Fifteen parties, six coalitions and six independent candidates filed applications to compete in the elections. In all, a total of 318 candidates are standing for Bulgaria’s 17 seats in the European Parliament.

The 28 member states of the European Union are holding European Parliament elections between May 22 and 25, between them electing 751 MEPs. The newly-elected European Parliament is scheduled to hold its constitutive meeting from July 1 to 3.

Voting in Bulgaria will be from 7am to 7pm on May 25.

Candidates

Bulgaria’s centre-right opposition party GERB, the largest party in the 42nd National Assembly elected in May 2013, has fielded former European Union funds minister Tomislav Donchev to head its list of candidate MEPs.

Donchev is followed on the list by three incumbent MEPs: Andrey Kovachev, Maria Gabriel and Vladimir Uruchev. Fifth and sixth on the GERB list are Eva Paunova and Emil Radev.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party, standing in the elections under its Coalition for Bulgaria banner, has Sergei Stanishev – prime minister from 2005 to 2009 and also current leader of the EU-wide Party of European Socialists – as its list leader. In second place is incumbent MEP Iliyana Yotova and in third, former speaker of parliament and former foreign minister Georgi Pirinski. They are followed, in turn, by Petar Kurumbashev, Dostena Lavern and Svetlina Yolcheva.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, partner in the current ruling axis in Bulgaria, has Filiz Hyusmenova as its list leader, but most attention has been focused on the figure in second place, Delyan Peevski, whose June 2013 abortive appointment to head the State Agency for National Security unleashed months of anti-government protests. Third on the MRF list is Nezdhmi Ali and fourth is Ilhan Kyuchuk. Environment minister Iskra Mihailova is fifth on the MRF MEP election candidate list, a position unlikely to see her on her way to the European Parliament.

The fourth and smallest party in the 42nd National Assembly, far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka, has a list made up largely of members of its national parliamentary group, headed by party leader Volen Siderov. Second on the list is Desislav Chukolov and third is Magdalena Tasheva.

Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC), formed around former television talk show host Nikolai Barekov, is standing in the European Parliament elections in coalition with nationalists VMRO and the Gergyovden movement, the latter two political groups of no significance. The ticket is headed by Barekov and populated with a motley collection of extra-parliamentary politicians, leaders of the February 2013 “cost of living” protests and, way down on the list in an unquestionably unelectable position, another former talk show host, Rossen Petrov.

The MEP election candidate list of the Reformist Bloc, a grouping of right-wing and centrist parties currently without any seats in the National Assembly, is headed by Meglena Kouneva, a former European commissioner, former EU affairs minister and failed candidate in the 2011 presidential elections. Kouneva was elected to the European Parliament in the previous MEP elections, on the list of the all-but-defunct National Movement for Stability and Progress, but declined to take up her seat. The Reformist Bloc list includes leaders of its constituent parties.

The candidate list of ABC, the movement formed by Georgi Purvanov as a counterpoint to the BSP leadership, is headed by Ivailo Kalfin, a sitting MEP and former foreign minister who ran second in Bulgaria’s 2011 presidential elections.

Other parties and coalitions that submitted applications to stand in Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections include the Bulgarian Left, National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (more or less an Ataka breakaway), BASTA (a breakaway group from GERB), Party of the Greens, Bulgarian National Patriotic Party, Blue Unity, Green Party, Nationalist Party of Bulgaria, Glas Naroden, and the Bulgarian Communist Party (registered under the name of the long-time party of the former regime in Bulgaria, even though the BSP is effectively that party’s successor-in-title).

Funding

Campaign funding rules are that the money used in the contest should come from resources of the parties, the coalitions and the initiative committees, and candidates, as well as with donations from individuals.

Donations to parties and coalitions may not exceed 10 000 leva (about 5000 euro) in a period of one year, when coming from individuals. Donations for initiative committees may not exceed 10 000 leva, when coming from individuals.

Funding from juristic entities and anonymous donations is against the law, while public administrative resources may not be used in election campaigning.

The sum total of funding for the election campaign per candidate list may not exceed two million leva in the case of parties and coalitions and 100 000 leva in the case of initiative committees.

Parties, coalitions and initiative committees each have to pay a deposit of 10 000 leva. The deposit shall be returned to parties and coalitions that have obtained no less than one per cent of the valid votes, as well as to the initiative committees whose candidates have obtained no less than one per cent of the valid votes.

Media

Public broadcasters Bulgarian National Television and Bulgarian National Radio have to provide parties and coalitions with television and radio airtime for debaes of a total duration of no less than 240 minutes.

At least half of this time will be given to parties and coalitions represented in the National Assembly that have registered candidates, and the rest to parties and coalitions outside Parliament and to initiative committees, based on an agreement between representatives of Bulgarian National Television, Bulgarian National Radio and the parties, coalitions and initiative committees concerned.

Printed media and private radio and television operators should provide equal conditions and prices for paid publications and broadcasts to all political parties, coalitions of political parties and initiative committees registered to take part in the elections.

Tariffs for such services must be announced no later than the 40th day prior to election day. The election campaign slots on Bulgarian National Television and Bulgarian National Radio are to begin and end with video clips of the parties, the coalitions and the initiative committees, lasting up to one minute.

Voting system

The electoral system being used by Bulgaria in the European Parliament election is a proportional system through preferential voting for national lists of political parties, of coalitions of political parties and of independent candidates.

Preferential votes cast for separate candidates will be taken into consideration where the number of votes obtained by a candidate amounts at least to the national quota (the total number of valid votes cast for the respective candidate list divided by the number of members of European Parliament from Bulgaria).

Results

The Central Election Commission shall announce the results of the voting:

* The votes obtained and the distribution of seats among parties and coalitions, no later than three days after election day;

  • The names of elected Members of the European Parliament from the Republic of Bulgaria, no later than five days after election day.

    Voters

Bulgarian nationals who have turned 18 years of age, as of election day inclusive, and have resided permanently in the Republic of Bulgaria or in another EU member state at least for the last three months, who have not been incapacitated and who are not serving a term of imprisonment, shall have the right to vote, according to the election law approved by Parliament in 2014.

Any national of a EU member state, who is not a Bulgarian national, shall have the right to elect MEPs for Bulgaria, if the person has turned 18 years of age as of election day inclusive, has the status of a long-term or permanent resident of the Republic of Bulgaria, has permanently resided at least for the last three months in the Republic of Bulgaria or in another EU member state, has not been deprived of the right to vote in elections in the member state of which he or she is a national and has made an advance declaration in writing of an intention to exercise the right to vote in Bulgaria.

However, in the case of citizens of EU countries other than Bulgaria, the deadline for application for inclusion on the voters’ roll in Bulgaria passed on April 14.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

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About the Author

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015).