Bulgaria’s April elections: Official campaign period heads to a close

The official campaign period in Bulgaria’s April 2 2023 early parliamentary elections – the fifth time in two years that Bulgarians are electing a legislature – comes to a close at midnight on March 31.

If the picture portrayed by all polling agencies is correct, Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition and the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria electoral coalition are duelling for first place in Sunday’s vote, meaning a contest over which will be entitled to receive the first mandate to seek to form a government.

GERB-UDF’s message in the campaign has been that when it was in power, there was a stability and security in Bulgaria, and on April 2, voters should support a return to that.

In the campaign, GERB-UDF has directed its fire solely at its rival, WCC-DB, and has insisted that in the 49th National Assembly, it would not vote for a government nominated by that coalition.

At WCC-DB’s close-of-campaign event on March 30, WCC co-leader Assen Vassilev said that on April 2, Bulgaria faced a choice between coming a normal European country or going back to “the Latin American model of governance”.

On Facebook, WCC co-leader Kiril Petkov pointed to pollsters saying that 13 to 15 per cent of voters were still undecided, adding that if the 50 per cent voter turnout of April 2021 were repeated, WCC-DB could win 121 seats and form a stand-alone government.

For all the official ending of the campaign period, it may be expected that campaigning will continue on Saturday and Sunday on social networks, which are beyond the aegis of Bulgarian electoral law.

April 1 is meant to be a “Day of Contemplation” on which canvassing is not allowed, while on April 2, it is illegal to post exit poll results until the official close of voting at 8pm. However, in the past some Bulgarian media repeatedly have defied or skirted this ban, in the latter case against by using social networks or other platforms to post exit polls through the course of election day.

In the week leading up election day, numerous schools across Bulgaria have been targeted with bomb hoaxes. Customarily, many polling stations are based at schools.

On March 31, caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev said that the bomb threats were “hybrid attacks”, there was no real danger and the public should be calm.

Speaking after a meeting with members of the Central Election Commission, at which a protocol was agreed for responding to bomb threats, Demerdzhiev said that people would be removed from polling stations only if there was a real threat.

The Sofia Globe will publish exit poll results as soon as they are made public on April 2 at 8pm. For further details about Bulgaria’s April 2023 early parliamentary elections, please see The Sofia Globe’s election factfile.

(Archive photo: Interior Ministry)

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