Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev appointed judge Krassimira Medarova as caretaker minister in charge of the electoral process, the president’s office said in a statement late on August 8.
Medarova is judge in the Sofia Court of Appeal, but has lodged her resignation with the Supreme Judicial Council, which is scheduled to meet on August 11 to discuss her resignation, the statement said.
She was a member of Bulgaria’s Central Electoral Committee (CEC) between April 2011 and March 2014, when she resigned because the new election law passed by Parliament banned judges from being members of the CEC.
The appointment comes several days after the caretaker cabinet of prime minister Georgi Bliznashki took office. Prior to its unveiling on August 5, several media reports claimed that the new government would include a minister tasked solely with oversight of the electoral process and the lack of such a ministerial appointment was seen as one of the few surprises in the caretaker cabinet line-up.
Plevneliev gave no reason for his appointment of an elections minister, but it is widely seen as an attempt to prevent a repeat of last year’s ballot papers controversy, known also as the “Kostinbrod affair”.
On May 12 2013, two days before Bulgaria was due to hold early elections, prosecutors raided the printing house in the town of Kostinbrod, which printed the ballot papers for the election, and found 350 000 allegedly illegal ballot papers.
The raid led to a media and political storm the day before the national parliamentary elections, with the focus on the printing house owner’s ties to Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, while GERB’s political opponents claimed that the extra ballots were meant to be used in an attempt to defraud the elections.
Former cabinet chief secretary Rossen Zhelyazkov was charged with failure to exercise proper oversight of the election process in October 2014. The lawsuit against Zhelyazkov began in June 2014, following a delay after the court returned the bill of indictment to prosecutors, asking them to clarify some of the accusations.