Protest to be held outside Bulgaria’s Parliament as MPs vote to bring back paper ballot voting

The Democratic Bulgaria coalition and the We Continue the Change (WCC) party called on Bulgarians to join a protest in front of the National Assembly building against what they call the theft of future elections, as MPs voted to bring back voting by paper ballot in addition to machine voting.

The protest was announced for December 1 at 6.30pm, as the National Assembly sitting to vote on the second reading of amendments to the Electoral Code, tabled by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and backed by GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF).

With the votes of GERB-UDF, the MRF and the BSP, a total of 124, Parliament approved a provision allowing voters to choose in parliamentary elections between voting by paper ballot or machine ballot.

WCC, Democratic Bulgaria, Vuzrazhdane and Bulgaria Ascending voted against, a total of 95 MPs.

GERB-UDF, the MRF and BSP also voted that in Bulgaria’s autumn 2023 municipal and mayoral elections, voting will be solely by paper ballot.

Early in the December 1 sitting, those three parliamentary groups backed a GERB-UDF proposal for the sitting on the second reading to continue until all the clauses had been voted on. An attempt by WCC to have the sitting adjourned for continuation on another day was defeated.

The vote to continue the sitting torpedoed sittings of several parliamentary committees, that had been scheduled for the afternoon, to consider important legislation.

WCC co-leader, former prime minister Kiril Petkov urged Bulgarians to come to the square in front of Parliament to support the protest.

“Today is the day when the democratic vote of every Bulgarian citizen will be substituted, the day when we open the door to 15 per cent invalid ballots, when the distortion of the vote makes the whole system work corruptly. Continue to defend your rights, we hope you will support us,” Petkov said.

WCC’s other co-leader Assen Vassilev said: “GERB, the MRF and BSP put the paper ballot over the laws on the Recovery and Sustainability Plan, over the Budget, over the tax on the excess profits of energy companies and Lukoil, which had to be looked at in the afternoon in committees.

“All this is less important for these three parties than to steal the elections with a paper ballot,” Vassilev said.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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