April 26 marks the official campaign period ahead of Bulgaria’s May 26 2019 European Parliament elections, in which the country will elect 17 MEPs.
Bulgaria will be voting along with most other EU countries on that Sunday. A few vote earlier: the Netherlands (and possibly the UK) on May 23, Ireland on May 24, Latvia, Malta Slovakia on May 25 and the Czech Republic on May 24 and 25.
In Bulgaria, candidate MEPs must be a minimum age of 21. Voting age is 18.
According to the Central Election Commission, there are a total of 318 people competing for the 17 Bulgarian seats in the European Parliament.
Thirteen political parties, eight coalitions and six independent candidates are standing in the elections.
Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1 2007. The May 2019 elections will be the fourth time Bulgarians have elected MEPs, after the votes in 2007, 2009 and 2014.
Voters in Bulgaria have to vote in a specific polling station based on their home address. People are obliged to vote in the polling section related to their permanent address indicated on their identity cards. They can vote in the polling section related to their current address registration by submitting an application in a standard form to the local administration, not later than 14 days before elections.
People with permanent disabilities who are unable to go to the polling station to exercise their vote may wish to vote in their home, not later than 14 days before elections – with a mobile ballot box. Exemptions are also possible for pupils and students.
Bulgarians who want to vote abroad have until midnight on April 30 to notify the Central Election Commission via the commission’s website.
Nationals of other EU countries resident in Bulgaria wanting to vote in Bulgaria’s EP elections had until April 15 to give notice to their local administration.
In Bulgaria there is just one national constituency, which means people across the country choose from the same lists of candidates.
As to the threshold for winning a seat, there are no threshold provisions according to the law. The results are determined by a specific methodology defined by the Election Code.
Under EU law, all countries must use voting systems that ensure proportional representation, which means that the number of elected members from each party depends on the share of electoral votes obtained by the party.
Bulgaria uses preferential voting, which gives the voters the option to indicate their preferences within the party list they choose. Candidates who receive the most preferences are more likely to be elected.
The campaign period ends at midnight on May 24. From then until voting ends, campaigning is illegal.
Voting hours on May 26 will be from 7am to 8pm.
Reporting of exit polls while voting is proceeding is illegal in Bulgaria. However, many, including several media, tend to skirt this by posting exit poll results on social networks. From 8pm, exit poll results may be announced.
The date for the Central Election Commission to announce the names of those elected as Bulgaria’s MEPs is May 31.