Bulgaria’s Central Electoral Commission outlines elections options

Bulgaria’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said on April 4 that it was ready for “two-in-one” simultaneous European Parliament and National Assembly elections, adding that if the two are held separately, they should be two weeks apart.

Bulgaria is holding scheduled European Parliament elections on June 9 2024, and is heading to early parliamentary elections after negotiations on a new government failed.

CEC head Kamelia Neikova said that if there was only a week between the European Parliament and National Assembly elections, it would make it impossible for the commission to conduct them.

“If the elections are on the same date, the CEC is ready to hold them, as it held those for the president and the National Assembly in November 2021,” said Neikova, who attended a meeting with President Roumen Radev, who as head of state decrees parliamentary election dates.

“When the two elections are on the same day, given that many expenses can be saved and the voters will not have to go to the polling stations twice, there is no reason for us to say that this cannot happen,” she said.

The results of the European Parliament elections must be announced no later than three days after the election day, and the names of the elected MEPs must be announced within five days.

In the elections for the National Assembly, the results are announced no later than four days, and the names of the MPs are announced after no later than seven days.

While this means CEC members will have a lot of work to do, CEC members said a “two-in-one” vote is the preferred option.

CEC member Emil Voinov said that if the two votes are held in different weeks, there will be overlap of election campaigns.

In addition, the CEC will have to receive all documents from the sectional and district election commissions and abroad, then re-enter the data with all the results and analyze the discrepancies in the numerical data.

The election records must then be reviewed, while at the same time organizing the printing of the paper ballots for the next vote in case the biweekly election option is taken.

Neikova said that it would not be possible within a week to get the machines back to Bulgaria after the first vote, to download the data from them and to send them back abroad for the next elections.

“A difference of a week between the two types of elections will create serious difficulties for the entire election process,” Neikova said.

She outlined another problem: If the parliamentary elections are before the European elections, on the election day for members of the EP, which is the seventh day after the Sunday of the National Assembly elections, the names of the MPs will have to be announced, and some may also be candidates in the elections for the European Parliament.

Radev said that the option of “two-in-one” elections is better, as there will be a higher voter turnout, people will not have to go to the polls several times and the state will save money.

He said that caretaker Prime Minister-designate Dimitar Glavchev would present him with his proposed caretaker government line-up at 9.30am on April 5.

After that, Radev will hold consultations with parliamentary groups, before issuing the decree on the caretaker government. In a separate decree, Radev will name the date of the National Assembly elections.

(Photo: Interior Ministry)

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