Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled on May 30 to declare the outcome of last year’s nationwide referendum on electoral rules as not binding.
The plebiscite, held in November 2016 at the same time with the first round of presidential elections, 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, 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.
Its appeal at the Supreme Administrative Court prompted a three-judge panel to order a partial recount in 44 electoral precincts. As a result, 492 votes were added to the final turnout tally, well short of the amount needed to make the referendum outcome binding, the three-judge panel ruled in February.
The ruling was appealed in front of a five-judge panel, which upheld the previous panel’s ruling on May 30. Its decision is final and cannot be appealed further.