Controversy deepens over reforms of Bulgaria’s electoral laws

One of the very few things that Bulgaria’s two sets of protests so far this year – the “cost of living” demonstrations in February and the huge marches this summer to demand the resignation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government – have in common is a demand for electoral reforms.

The February protests resulted in nothing other than the downfall of the centre-right GERB government of the time and since then, this purpose achieved, little has been heard of its “leaders” apart from those few who have embarked on ventures such as launching political parties of the very form that they claimed to despise.

The anti-government protests that began soon after the Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms-Ataka deal brought to power an administration seen by its detractors as discredited from the outset have been characterised by more than the demand for this embattled administration to quit, but also for a rewrite of electoral laws to bring in a new element of citizen participation and loosen the dead hand of the customary line-up of political parties.

Any politician in Bulgaria who has ambitions to survive politically has to pay at least lip service to the notion of electoral reform, and the current government – whose principal purpose in office is to remain in office, turning a deaf ear to the chants for its resignation – is indulging in an “electoral reform” process.

This is being led by one of its most controversial MPs, a figure that the anti-government protesters love to hate, Maya Manolova, formerly a small-town lawyer who has risen to prominence in socialist party circles.

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(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)