The timing of the 2014 European Parliament elections on the last weekend of May, the peak of graduation proms in the country, means that the sales of alcoholic beverages, banned by Bulgaria’s election laws on election days, will be eased this time around.
Details of the bans are left to local authorities anyway, which routinely leads to significant discrepancies across the country.
Sofia city hall was once again among those that decided on the most lax interpretation of the law, banning liquor sales only in the immediate surroundings of voting precincts, which are usually opened in schools.
In Plovdiv, the ban applies throughout the city for the duration of the election day, from 6am until 8pm on May 25.
As usual, festivities organised in advance – a clause usually reserved for weddings or other family events – are exempted from this ban, with graduation proms subject to the same exemption.
In Varna, by comparison, the ban is in place from midnight on May 25 until voting closes at 8pm.
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) and the election day itself, when it is meant to prevent breaches of public peace.
In previous years, alcohol sales would often also be banned from as early as the Friday before the elections, but few municipalities enforce it as strictly nowadays and this year, even less so.
(Photo: pavlo araujo/sxc.hu)