Bulgaria’s political parties have until 6pm on March 27 to submit applications to be registered for the country’s ahead-of-term national parliamentary elections to be held on May 12, while for coalitions the deadline is 5pm on April 1.
By the end of March 26, more than 50 parties had lodged applications at the Central Election Commission.
These included Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms led by Lyutvi Mestan, Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalist Ataka party, the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces and Yane Yanev’s Order Law and Justice party – parties all represented in the 41st National Assembly although in some cases prospects of entry to the 42nd currently are unclear.
The official election campaign period will begin on April 12 and continue until midnight on May 10. May 11 is a “day of contemplation” on which campaigning is forbidden, and also will be an official non-working day. May 18 will be a working day to compensate for this.
Polling stations will be open on May 12 from 7am to 8pm. Where voting is held abroad, the hours will be the same, but according to local time.
Bulgarian schools used as polling stations will be closed on May 13.
Parties expected to register on March 27 included the Democratic Citizens Initiative, the party being used as an electoral vehicle by a group of some of the protest leaders, Angel Slavchev, Doncho Dudev and Yanko Petrov.
Also expected to register was Blue Unity, for which a court registration application was filed on March 25 by Nadezhda Neynski, who is a former leader of the UDF and who was foreign minister in the 1997-2001 Ivan Kostov UDF government.
The process of checking the validity of the signatures appended to applications for registration will continue until March 30. Parties require 7000 valid signatures to register. In the cases of some parties, notably GERB, the socialists and Meglena Kouneva’s Bulgaria for Citizens, this number has been vastly (and somewhat pointedly) exceeded.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will send more than 240 international observers to Bulgaria for the May 12 elections.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)