Bulgaria will hold presidential elections and a national referendum on November 6 2016, the National Assembly decided on July 29 in one of its last votes before going on summer recess.
The November 6 date was proposed by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, the majority partner in the coalition government, as well as the Reformist Bloc, Patriotic Front, Bulgarian Democratic Centre and Ataka, and supported by 133 votes in the 240-seat Parliament.
On that date, a new president and vice president will be elected. Should no candidate win a decisive victory, meaning more than 50 per cent of the vote, at the first round, a second round will be held on November 13.
Incumbent head of state President Rossen Plevneliev, elected President on a GERB ticket in late 2011, announced in May that he would not stand for a second term in office.
GERB has not announced its presidential candidate. Borissov has said repeatedly that the party will do so in September.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and its splinter ABC have held talks on a joint candidate. The BSP is expected to announce its presidential candidate in the next few days.
The centre-right Reformist Bloc coalition, the majority component of which supports the government while one party is in opposition, also remains to announce a candidate.
As to the nationalist Patriotic Front, reports have said that an initiative committee has put forward the nomination of PF co-leader Krassimir Karachanov as the presidential candidate, with Ataka MP Yavor Notev as the vice-presidential pick. The idea of nominating the two – who also both are deputy speakers of Parliament – is to unite the nationalist vote.
The national referendum on the same day arises from questions put forward in a petition initiated by television talk show host Slavi Trifonov, although only three of an original six questions will be put to the vote. This is because the Constitutional Court found three of the proposed questions unconstitutional.
The questions that will be asked are about the introduction of a majoritarian system to elect MPs, the introduction of compulsory voting (even though Parliament has already legislated this) and the reduction of the state subsidy for political parties and coalitions to one lev (about 50 euro cents) per valid vote in the most recent parliamentary elections.