Former talk show host Nikolai Barekov’s populist Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC) coalition was again the biggest spender in the October parliamentary elections, paying more than a million leva for campaign advertising, after having spent more than 1.2 million leva on advertising ahead of Bulgaria’s May 2014 European Parliament elections.
This is according to Antoaneta Tsoneva of the Institute for Public Environment Development NGO, which tracked – as far as is possible – spending by parties and coalitions and earnings by media in the October early elections.
While Barekov’s BWC was the biggest spender, it came in only sixth on October 5, getting 5.69 per cent of the vote, thus gaining it 15 out of 240 seats in the National Assembly.
In the European Parliament election in May, BWC got 10.66 per cent, and thus two out of Bulgaria’s 17 MEP seats. It now has only one after the winner of the second split from the BWC coalition along with the nationalist VMRO party of which he is a member.
In the October elections, the Bulgarian Socialist Party spent close to 619 000 leva on campaigning in the media. The BSP ran second in the elections, with 15.4 per cent of the vote.
GERB, which on October 5 won by far the most votes and which will first get the mandate to seek to form a government, was only seventh in the adspend stakes. It spent 239 057 on media advertising.
Of the eight parties that won seats in the National Assembly, spending on advertising by others was: the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, 555 705 leva; Ataka 539 605 leva; the Reformist Bloc 412 033 leva; Georgi Purvanov’s ABC 255 010 leva; and the Patriotic Front (the only one to spend less than GERB and still win seats) 181 054 leva.
In all, according to the Institute for Public Environment Development, basing its figures on those who met legal requirements for official declarations, parties and coalitions standing in Bulgaria’s October 5 elections spent a total of 4 385 587 leva on advertising.
Not all the media monitored complied with election law requirements on making public advertising tariffs and contracts signed with parties and coalitions.
According to the Institute for Public Environment Development, in one case among those who did make public their contracts, Struma newspaper posted the contracts but deleted the amounts they were for, while Focus news agency posted photographs that rendered the information illegible.
Among the media for which information is available, the top 10 earners were: bTV 1 284 300 leva; Nova Televizia 788 958 leva; Bulgarian National Television 515 958 leva; newspapers Trud and 24 Chassa 415 733 leva; Darik Radio 272 294 leva; Presa 206 694 leva; website Vesti 180 953; Kanal 3, 140 253 leva; Standart 108 804 leva; and Bulgarian National Radio 95 790 leva.