Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission has banned from broadcast and posting online an election campaign advertisement by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms because children are used in the advert for political canvassing.
In the advert, which has been running since the September 5 official start of the campaign period ahead of Bulgaria’s October 5 early parliamentary elections, MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan is seen hugging and kissing a toddler, while the footage also includes children holding balloons emblazoned with the MRF slogan.
The ban is the latest twist in an episode which began with the Central Election Commission banning a television advertisement by a minority ultra-nationalist far-right party because it showed a blonde child running through a meadow holding a Bulgarian flag.
The commission banned that ad because it violated electoral and child protection laws.
This led to a protest by the party, Boyan Rasate’s Bulgarian National Union-New Democracy party, which “occupied” part of the building used by the commission, demanding a reversal of the ban.
Rasate’s party, which is standing on a “Bulgaria for the Bulgarians” and anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner platform, took exception to its ad being banned while the advert for the MRF – a party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity and thus a particular bugbear for Rasate – was still being flighted.
On September 25, the CEC, while also formally condemning the actions taken by Rasate’s party in invading its building, upheld the BNU-ND complaint against the MRF advertisement.