Bulgaria’s major political parties and coalitions, as well as those who fancy their fighting chances of winning seats, all made the April 9 2014 deadline for registration for the country’s May 25 European Parliament elections.
Bulgarian voters will be electing 17 MEPs. The threshold for winning a seat is 5.88 per cent of the vote, with opinion polls from various agencies offering diverse pictures of which – besides the major parties – contestants have chances of making it over the threshold.
Parties winning more than one per cent of the vote will recover the deposits payable for competing in the election.
Those parties to have applied to register include GERB, the centre-right former governing party that currently has the most seats in the National Assembly but also is the opposition party; the Bulgarian Socialist Party, current holder of the mandate to govern; the Movement for Rights and Freedoms; Ataka and its ultra-nationalist rival the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria; the Reformist Bloc, an alliance of extra-parliamentary centre-right parties; ABC, Georgi Purvanov’s splinter movement that opposes the current BSP leadership, and Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC), founded around former television talk show host Nikolai Barekov.
To be accepted for registration, political formations have to present 2500 valid signatures from voters.
The validity of signatures is checked by the Citizens’ Registration and Administrative Service Directorate before registration is confirmed.
Verification of documents is to be completed by April 12, according to the deadline agreed by the Central Election Commission.
Should the CEC refuse to register a party or coalition, the decision may be taken on appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.
For the first time, Bulgaria will be using an electoral system involving preferential voting, enabling voters to express a preference for a candidate on a party’s electoral list.
As has become traditional in elections in Bulgaria since GERB was registered as a party, it was the first to present its documents, when registration applications opened on April 3.
The documents for Boiko Borissov’s party were taken to CEC headquarters in Sofia by election headquarters chief Tsvetan Tsvetanov, deputy chief of staff Tsvetomir Paunov and GERB’s list leader for the May 25 European Parliament elections, former EU funds minister Tomislav Donchev.
The BSP, competing in the European Parliament elections under its Coalition for Bulgaria banner, presented close to 100 000 signatures, delivered by a delegation headed by Sergei Stanishev, who is leader of the BSP and of the Party of European Socialists, and is list leader in the 2014 European Parliament elections.
The MRF, whose delegation was led by its Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Aliosman Imamov, presented 6020 signatures. The most interest around the MRF list is whether it will include controversial figure Delyan Peevski, who by the afternoon of April 9 had been nominated as an MEP candidate by three MRF local structures.
Purvanov’s ABC, represented by his close ally Roumen Petkov, presented 5201 signatures. ABC is supported by a range of extra-parliamentary – and largely obscure – political parties. The ABC ticket is being headed by Ivailo Kalfin, a sitting MEP and former foreign minister, who was the BSP candidate in the presidential elections in 2011, running second behind GERB candidate Rossen Plevneliev.
Ataka, currently the smallest party in the National Assembly, also presented more than 5000 signatures.
The BWC European Parliament election list will be headed by party leader Barekov, while the Reformist Bloc list is headed by Meglena Kouneva, leader of the Bulgaria for Citizens party that is a member of the bloc, and a former European Commissioner.
* Separately, the CEC issued a reminder that April 14 is the deadline for a national of an EU member state other than Bulgaria who is eligible to vote in Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections to apply for inclusion in the voters’ roll. Applications should be made at the administration of the municipality where the applicant has a registered address.