Bulgaria’s voters go to the polls on March 26 2017 in ahead-of-term elections for the 44th National Assembly, the country’s unicameral Parliament. This is The Sofia Globe’s factfile.
The elections are being held following Parliament’s acceptance on November 16 2016 of the resignation of the second Boiko Borissov government, which had been in office since November 7 2014. A caretaker cabinet headed by Ognyan Gerdzhikov was given stewardship of the country on January 27 2017.
Eleven parties and nine coalitions are standing in the elections.
Some of the key numbers and rules:
Eligible to vote: About 6.8 million people.
Voting age: 18 (those serving prison sentences may not vote).
Age of eligibility to be a candidate MP: 21.
Up for grabs: 240 seats.
MP candidates: 4678.
Number of MP candidates who worked for State Security: 81.
Polling stations: 12 081 in Bulgaria, and abroad, 371 in 70 countries abroad.
Think about it: By law, March 25, the day before the election, is a “Day of Contemplation” on which no election campaigning is allowed. The official month-long campaign period ends at midnight on March 24.
Drink about it? There may be varying restrictions on sales of alcohol on and even before election day, generally ending when polls close. By law, these restrictions, if any, are up to individual municipalities to decree. Any ban on sales of alcohol also applies to foreigners who cannot vote.
Voting hours: Polls open at 7am and close at 8pm. Outside the country, the equivalent local times apply. Local election officials may allow those still queuing at the time polls close, to proceed to vote. In 2017, the elections coincide with the day that Bulgaria changes to summer daylight savings time, with clocks going forward an hour at 3am on March 26. This is not this first time that this has happened – the October 2015 municipal elections coincided with the clocks going back an hour.
Electoral threshold: Four per cent.
Term of the National Assembly: Four years.
Voting machines: In spite of electoral law saying that there should be voting machines at all polling stations as an alternative to ballot papers, there will not be, a belated bid to acquire 13 000 machines having failed.
Exit polls: It is illegal to make public exit polls while voting is underway. This applies to newspapers, news websites, television and radio stations. Whether this applies to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter or to personal blogs is disputed – the majority of readings of electoral law conclude that it does not – and the 2016 presidential election saw the CEC call on media not to use their Facebook pages to post exit polls throughout voting day.
Parking restrictions: On election day, there will be bans on parking near the National Palace of Culture, Arena Armeec and Universada Hall in Sofia. There will traffic restrictions in these areas.
Schools closing: Customarily, schools used as polling stations are closed on the day following the elections. This year, the Education Ministry has ordered all schools to be closed on March 27.
After the election:
According to the constitution, the President has up to a month after the elections to convene the National Assembly. Should the President not do so, it may be convened by at least a fifth of its members.
In the case of the National Assembly elections in 2009 and 2013, the first sitting of Parliament was held nine days after election day. In 2014, the parliamentary election was on October 5 and the National Assembly’s first sitting was on October 27.
After consultations with parliamentary groups, the President appoints a Prime Minister-designate nominated by the party that has won the highest number of seats in the National Assembly.
Should the Prime Minister-designate fail to form a government within seven days, the mandate is passed to the person designated by the second-largest parliamentary group. Should the second attempt at forming a government fail, the mandate goes to a minority parliamentary group of the President’s choice.
Should consultations on forming a government prove successful, the President asks the National Assembly to vote to elect the Prime Minister-designate.
If no agreement on forming a government is reached, the President appoints a caretaker government, dissolves the National Assembly and schedules new elections on a date two months hence.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)
For the full results of Bulgaria’s March 26 2017 parliamentary elections, please follow us on Twitter at TheSofiaGlobe and via our sofiaglobe.com homepage and Facebook page. A timeline of key political events in Bulgaria from 2007 to 2017 is available on The Sofia Globe’s special page.
To see all of The Sofia Globe’s elections 2017 coverage so far, please click here.
German-language coverage of the elections will be posted on The Sofia Globe Deutsch page.