Bulgaria’s October 2022 parliamentary elections: Factfile

Bulgaria goes to the polls on October 2 2022 in early parliamentary elections, the fourth time in two years that the country elects a legislature. The official campaign period begins on September 2.

This is The Sofia Globe’s factfile:

A total of 23 parties and six coalitions registered for the elections, but one party did not submit a list of candidates and will not appear on the ballot.

In all, there are more than 6700 candidates vying for one of the 240 seats in Bulgaria’s 48th National Assembly.

To win seats in the National Assembly, a party or coalition must get at least four per cent of valid votes cast.

Voters have the option to choose “I don’t support anyone”. Such votes are counted in when calculating turnout, but have no impact on the distribution of seats in the National Assembly.

Bulgarian citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote, but not if they are serving an effective term of imprisonment.

How many Bulgarians are eligible to vote? In the November 2021 presidential elections, the Central Election Commission based its calculation of turnout in the first round, held on November 14, on a figure of 6 635 505 eligible voters. For the second round, held on November 21, it used a figure of 6 672 935, on the basis of a number of people having turned 18 between the first and second rounds. For the November 14 2021 early parliamentary elections, the commission based its voter turnout calculation on a figure of 6 665 534. It is not known why the commission had two different figures for eligible voters, given that there is no legal difference in eligibility to vote in a presidential and a parliamentary election.

As amended in 2021, after the April elections, Bulgarian electoral law requires that voting is done using a machine at any precinct where more than 300 voters are registered.

There will be voting machines at 9363 polling stations in Bulgaria, with a second machine at 1104 of these polling stations.

There will be voting machines at 290 polling stations outside Bulgaria, with a second machine at 233 of these stations.

Bulgaria’s caretaker government has allocated close to 71 million leva for the holding of the October 2 elections.

With the sums allocated by previous administrations in 2021, this brings to more than 253 million leva the money set aside for elections this year and last year.

The official campaign period continues until midnight on September 30.

During the official campaign period, media publishing the results of opinion polls are required by law to include information, as provided by the polling agency, of items such as the methodology and sample size of the poll and how the poll was funded.

Coverage of the elections on public media is governed by law and by agreements between the heads of the public media and the parties and coalitions, as approved by the Central Election Commission.

Campaign materials, whether in print, on air or on billboards, are required by law to include the words “buying and selling of votes is a crime”.

Canvassing may be conducted solely in the Bulgarian language.

While electoral law governs media coverage, it is does not affect content on social networks such as Facebook, which are not defined in Bulgarian law as media providers.

During the campaign period, election materials may not include the coat or arms or the flag of Bulgaria or a foreign country, nor religious signs or images. Election advertising may not depict children.

Electoral law forbids the distribution of anonymous campaign materials and those that denigrate the “good morals, honour and dignity” of candidates.

Campaigning in state and municipal institutions and companies, as well as the use of state or municipal property by parties, coalitions, independent candidates and initiative committees, is prohibited.

It is expected that during the campaign period, the Dossier Commission, the body empowered by statute to disclose whether people in certain public walks of life were affiliated with Bulgaria’s communist-era secret services, will announce the results of its checks of parliamentary candidates. Bulgaria’s constitution does not allow lustration, so even if a candidate is announced to have worked for these services, this is no bar to being elected to office.

Following the close of the official campaign period, October 1 will be a “Day of Contemplation” during which canvassing is forbidden.

From the end of the campaign period until after 8pm on October 2, it is forbidden to make public the results of exit polls.

On election weekend, municipalities have the right to ban or restrict the sale of alcohol. There are 265 municipalities in Bulgaria, so such decrees – if issued – have to be checked individually. Any such ban also applies to foreigners ineligible to vote in presidential and National Assembly elections in Bulgaria.

On October 2, voting opens at 7am and continues until 8pm. If there are still queues at 8pm, election officials are empowered to extend voting, but no later than 9pm. These same hours and rules apply at polling stations abroad, on the basis of local times.

While exit polls will be made known publicly on election night, the Central Election Commission has until October 6 to publish the official results of the election and until October 9 to announce the names of those who have been elected as MPs.

An MP elected from more than one electoral district must declare from which one that MP will be deemed to have been elected.

According to the constitution (to be found in English at this link), the President has up to a month after the elections to convene the National Assembly. Should the President not do so, Parliament may be convened by at least a fifth of its members.

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 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 from the date on which Parliament is dissolved.

(Photo: president.bg)

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