Polls opened in Bulgaria at 7am on March 26 for voting in the country’s ahead-of-term election of a new Parliament.
About 6.8 million Bulgarians were eligible to cast a ballot within the country and at polling stations in 70 foreign countries, to elect the 240 members of the unicameral legislature, the National Assembly.
The Central Election Commission said soon after 7am that the voting process was proceeding normally and it had no information that any polling station had not opened.
Results of exit polls were expected to released on television, radio and the internet soon after the closing of polls at 8pm. At polling stations abroad, voting also was to be from 7am to 8pm, at local times. Electoral officials have some leeway to extend the voting time if voters are present in queues at polling stations when the official hours end.
To win seats, political parties and coalitions must surpass a threshold of four per cent of the vote. Twenty parties and coalitions are competing in the election. There are also 21 candidates standing as independents.
The National Assembly elected in October 2014 was dissolved in January 2017, a result of the resignation of Boiko Borissov’s government and the failure of attempts to form a new elected government.
Voting in the election is compulsory, but the Constitutional Court has overturned a provision in Bulgaria’s electoral law that had envisaged a penalty of deprivation of the franchise of anyone who failed to vote in two consecutive elections of the same type.
The compulsory voting law does not apply to Bulgarians abroad.
In a televised address on March 24, caretaker Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov said the power to decide who would govern Bulgaria was in the hands of every single citizen.
Gerdzhikov called on those eligible to vote for the first time to go to the polls, telling them “you are the future” and that the country needed them to participate actively in its political life.
A law professor whose interim administration’s principal duty has been to prepare the early parliamentary elections, Gerdzhikov insisted that his cabinet had carried out its duty to prepare for the proper conduct of the elections.
He said that security and order were under continuous control, reports of breaches of the law were being responded to properly and the borders were being guarded in line with the requirements of the law.
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.
The Sofia Globe election factfile about Bulgaria’s March 2017 vote is online here.
German-language coverage of the elections is on The Sofia Globe Deutsch page.