Bulgaria’s June 9 2024 elections: The Sofia Globe’s factfile

May 10 marks the official campaign period ahead of Bulgaria’s June 9 2024 European Parliament elections, in which the country will elect 17 MEPs, and the simultaneous early National Assembly elections, in which 240 MPs are to be elected.

This is The Sofia Globe’s factfile.

The June 9 early parliamentary elections are Bulgaria’s sixth elections of a National Assembly since 2021. The country’s European Parliament elections are the fifth such regular elections of Bulgaria’s MEPs since it joined the EU in 2007.

In the early National Assembly elections, 20 parties, 11 coalitions and one independent candidate are standing.

In the European Parliament elections, 20 parties, 10 coalitions and one independent candidate are standing.

In all, there are 6114 candidate MPs and 418 candidate MEPs. Of this total, 334 are standing in both elections.

The official election campaign period continues until June 7.

June 8 is a “Day of Contemplation” on which canvassing is forbidden.

Voting hours on June 9 will be from 7am to 8pm. By law, electoral commission officials may extend voting by up to an hour to admit those in the queue to vote.Where voting is being held abroad, voting ends at 8pm local time.

Voting abroad will take place for both the European Parliament and the National Assembly in the EU member states and at the Bulgarian diplomatic and consular missions in third countries. Elsewhere in non-EU countries, there will only be voting for the National Assembly. To be eligible to vote abroad, voters must have had a current address in the EU by March 9 2024.

A voter who has not submitted an application to vote outside the country may vote in an established polling station outside the country by submitting a declaration stating that they have not voted and will not vote elsewhere.

Bulgarian citizens will be eligible to vote in the elections for European Parliament if they are over the age of 18, have lived for at least the last three months in Bulgaria or in another member state of the European Union, are not under arrest and are not serving a prison sentence.

Citizens of other  EU member states who meet the same conditions, are not deprived of the right to vote in the member state of which they are citizens, and have the status of long-term or permanent residents in Bulgaria, can also vote in the European Parliament elections. However, the deadline to register to vote in Bulgaria has passed, on April 29.

Regarding the European Parliament elections, in Bulgaria there is just one national constituency, which means people across the country choose from the same lists of candidates.

To win seats in the National Assembly, a party or coalition must get at least four per cent of valid votes cast. Winning a seat in the European Parliament requires one-seventh of valid ballots cast.

The ballot papers for the National Assembly and European Parliament elections will be of different colours.

In both elections, voters may use preferential voting to move a candidate up the list.

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.

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, on 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 CEC.

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.

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.

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 Central Electoral Commission has until June 12 to announce the distribution of seats among parties and coalitions in the European Parliament elections. It has until June 14 to announce the names of those elected as MEPs.

The Commission has until June 13 to announce the distribution of seats among parties and coalitions in the National Assembly elections.

An MP elected from more than one electoral district must declare from which one that MP will be deemed to have been elected. There is a deadline of June 14 to do so. The same principle applies if a candidate has been elected both to the National Assembly and the European Parliament. The elected candidate must choose in which legislature to take up a seat.

The Commission has until June 16 to announce the names of those elected as MPs.

The 2024 European Parliament elections are being held from June 6 to 9, in the bloc’s 27 member states.

The dates are:

June 6 – the Netherlands

June 7 – Czechia (June 7-8), Ireland

June 8 – Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, Italy (June 8-9)

June 9 – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

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The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292