Bulgaria’s election laws ban the sale of alcoholic beverages on election days, but since the details of the bans are left to local authorities, this often leads to significant discrepancies across the country.
Sofia city hall is among those that decided on the most lax interpretation of the law, banning liquor sales between 6am and 8pm on May 12. More importantly, however, the city hall order explicitly makes an exception for beer, which will be sold throughout the election day.
The city of Plovdiv, similarly, imposed a ban on alcohol sales covering only the election day, May 12, between 6am and 9pm.
Many other towns have issued stricter bans – in places like Shoumen or Doupnitsa, the restriction will be enforced between 8pm on May 11 and 8am on May 13. Larger retail outlets generally do not remove liquor bottles from their shelves, but some limit access and post notices about the duration of the ban.
The bans also apply to restaurants and pubs, although an exception is provided, by law, for family events planned in advance, such as weddings, christenings and funeral receptions. A separate exception is made for wholesale commerce in order to prevent disruption of business.
Alcohol bans are tied to Bulgaria’s “day of contemplation” practice, the day before the election when campaigning is banned in order to give voters the opportunity to make their choice without outside influence (campaigning on the day of election is likewise banned).
In previous years, alcohol sales would often also be banned on the “day of contemplation” as well, although few municipalities enforce it as strictly nowadays.
(Photo: pavlo araujo/sxc.hu)