Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court ordered on December 14 a recount of ballots cast in the nationwide referendum on November 6 in 44 electoral precincts.
The recount order comes after the initiative committee that gathered the signatures necessary to call the plebiscite lodged a complaint against the Central Electoral Committee, arguing that the electoral body had breached election rules, which could have altered the outcome of the referendum.
The plebiscite asked three questions: whether voters were in favour of making voting mandatory (which it already is), whether they supported a switch to a majoritarian system of electing MPs (a switch that analysts warn Bulgaria is ill-equipped to carry out in time for the early parliamentary elections likely to be held in late March or early April), and whether to drastically reduce the state subsidies given to parliamentary represented parties.
The answer to all three questions was an overwhelming yes, but the referendum outcome is not binding on Parliament because the turnout fell just 12 000 votes short of the threshold making it so.
The team of Bulgarian television showman Slavi Trifonov, who initiated the signature-gathering campaign for the referendum, has repeatedly questioned the outcome, going as far as to accuse the Central Electoral Committee of manipulating the results to ensure that the turnout numbers fell short of the threshold making the plebiscite outcome binding on the National Assembly.
The ballot recount will have to be completed within 10 days of the initiative committee making a 12 000 leva deposit that will cover the costs of the recount.