Boiko Borissov’s centre-right party GERB took the largest share of votes in Bulgaria’s May 25 European Parliament elections, about 28.4 per cent, with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) coming in second at 21.6 per cent, going by an exit poll by Alpha Research, released after voting ended.
Third was the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) with 15.5 per cent, fourth Nikolai Barekov’s Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC) with 9.9 per cent and fifth the centre-right Reformist Bloc with 6.8 per cent.
Voter turnout was estimated at 33 per cent.
These percentages would mean that the 17 MEP seats would be shared out as GERB six, BSP five, MRF three, BWC two and the Reformist Bloc one.
If these percentages remain much the same as further polls and results come in, it will prove a stronger performance for Borissov’s GERB than in the 2009 European Parliament elections in Bulgaria, when his party won 24.36 per cent and the BSP 18.5 per cent, with voter turnout at 37.5 per cent.
In the 2013 National Assembly elections, GERB got 30.5 per cent and the BSP 26.6 per cent of the vote, with voter turnout at 51.3 per cent.
The provisional indication of results in Bulgaria’s 2014 European Parliament elections suggests that five parties will be getting shares of the 17 MEP seats up for grabs – GERB, the BSP, MRF, Barekov’s BWC and the Reformist Bloc, according to Alpha Research projections.
The Exacta agency, whose figures also were for 6pm, said that on May 25 2014, GERB had 29.4 per cent, BSP 21.2 per cent, the MRF 13.5 per cent, BWC 11.2 per cent and the Reformist Bloc seven per cent.
On May 25, about 6.3 million Bulgarians were eligible to vote in elections to choose the country’s 17 MEPs, with 15 parties, six coalitions and three independent candidates standing in the election. About 11 658 polling stations were opened in the country, albeit in a few cases with slight delays.
These were the first elections to be held under the new Election Act, in force since March 5 2014. The act was pushed through the National Assembly with the backing of the ruling axis parties, who in turn overturned a veto of parts of it by President Rossen Plevneliev. The controversial legislation was punted by the BSP as an improvement of previous legislation under the GERB government.
Election day appeared to have passed largely calmly, albeit with the customary allegations of vote-buying.
At a mid-afternoon news conference, Central Election Commission (CEC) spokesperson Alexander Andreev said that 80 reports and 40 complaints had been received by the CEC.
These included allegations of vote-buying in Stara Zagora, Haskovo and Vidin. The CEC had notified the Regional Election Commission and the prosecutor’s office had been asked to investigate.
The CEC said that since the official start of the campaign just more than a month ago, prosecutors had investigated a total of 211 cases. Of these, 147 had been terminated for lack of evidence. Work was proceeding on the others. The largest number of allegations, 77, was in Sofia.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, Borissov described the elections as the “most marred” and said that he was receiving calls from all over the country about vote-buying on behalf of the BSP, especially in residential areas where Roma people lived.
“Tonight, we will not hold a news conference because we want to see the results at the Roma quarters first,” Borissov said.
He said that after his party checked the data, it would give reporters lists of which parties had bought votes.
BWC chief Barekov said that a “huge manipulation” was being plotted for the end of the election day, and alleged that there were counterfeit official ballot records and “entire polling stations will be bought”.
On May 24, an NGO with the BWC name was ordered to stop sending mass-scale text messages marking the day, celebrated in Bulgaria as the Day of Slavonic Script and Learning, with the CEC saying that the identification of the organisation constituted illegal canvassing.
Initial indications were that Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalist far-right Ataka party had scant to no chance of returning to the European Parliament. Alpha Research put Siderov’s party at 3.7 per cent.
Georgi Purvanov’s ABC was estimated to have got 3.4 per cent of the vote.
The 2014 European Parliament elections have been seen in many quarters as closely linked to the issue of popular demands for early parliamentary elections.
After the May 2013 national parliamentary elections, GERB again had the most MPs, but had no allies in the 42nd National Assembly with which to form a governing coalition and thus have a second term in power.
Instead, the second-ranked BSP was handed a mandate to govern. A cabinet was named that was backed by the MRF and with the tacit support of Ataka.
Mass public protests demanding the resignation of this cabinet began in June 2013 after the election by the parties of the ruling axis of controversial figure Delyan Peevski to head the State Agency for National Security.
Peevski’s appointment was withdrawn and the Constitutional Court ruled that he was still a member of the National Assembly, though he never returned there in person. A second on the list of the MRF, it appears that Peevski will now be an MEP.