In the latest twist in the controversy about polling stations in Turkey planned for Bulgaria’s October 5 2014 early parliamentary elections, the Central Election Commission has rejected claims that any are unlawful.
Earlier, the Supreme Administrative Court, following an application by the Bulgaria’s ultra-nationalist Patriotic Front, ordered eight of the polling stations in Turkey not to be opened, ruling that they did not comply with electoral law.
Of the 429 polling stations outside Bulgaria to be opened on October 5, 136 are in Turkey.
Political rivals allege that this will work to the undue advantage of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity.
Apart from the Patriotic Front, ultra-nationalist Ataka leader Volen Siderov has spoken against the polling stations in Turkey, while populist Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC) leader Nikolai Barekov has alleged that the “Turkish” vote will benefit not only the MRF but also the centre-right Reformist Bloc, whose constituent parties include one led by an MRF breakaway. Barekov has threatened that BWC will block Bulgaria’s border checkpoints with Turkey on October 1.
But on September 23, CEC spokesperson Kamelia Neykova said that the commission categorically rejected claims that there were polling stations in Turkey that were contrary to the law.
She said that the commission had the discretion whether or not to close polling stations.
“This is done only on the basis of the law, namely whether there have been applications by voters, whether in the places at least 100 people voted in the past five years,” Neykova said.
The CEC is declining to comply with the Supreme Administrative Court ruling, saying that the court reached its finding on the basis of outdated information.
Valeri Simeonov, leader of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria – a major constituent party of the Patriotic Front – said that in not complying with the court ruling, the CEC was not recognising the rule of law.
Neykova said that the court, when it looked at the commission’s website to examine tables of polling stations opened on the basis of previous voting, had not checked all tables and added that the information on the website had been corrected to eliminate clerical errors.
All 136 polling stations planned for Turkey are being opened on the basis of at least 100 people having voted at them in elections in the past five years.
(Photo: Steven Fruitsmaak/wikinews)