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Election campaign kicks off in Bulgaria

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As of today the election campaign is officially on in Bulgaria. It will last 29 days and will officially end at 24.00 hours on 2 April, 2021, by a decision of the Central Electoral Commission. 24 hours before the holding of the parliamentary elections on 4 April electioneering is prohibited, so that 3 April will be election silence day.

During the election campaigning for the 45th National Assembly, citizens, parties, coalitions, initiative committees, candidates and observers are free to electioneer verbally or in written form. This can take place at election rallies, as well as through media service providers; social media and personal blogs are not considered as such. However, an important requirement is that election campaigning can only take place in the Bulgarian language. 

In the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, the health minister has advised politicians to keep voters safe by electioneering remotely, to hold rallies outdoors at which distancing shall be observed and PPE used. Responsibility for the way election events are organized rests with their organizers and the Interior Ministry authorities.

Over the next 30 days there is a prohibition on publishing anonymous electioneering material or such which runs contrary to the accepted principles of morality, the dignity or good name of the candidates. Political campaigning is also prohibited on public transport, at public institutions or enterprises.

Public service media – the Bulgarian National TV and the Bulgarian National Radio – are obligated to provide objective and fair coverage of the initiatives of the candidates registered by the parties, coalitions and initiative committees, with due regard for their equal treatment and their importance. The election campaign is covered by public service media in various forms, but compulsorily during time slots specifically designated for that purpose and indicated as such. 

No later than 7 days after election day, the parties, coalitions and initiative committees must remove the electioneering material they have put up for the past election.

All Bulgarian citizens aged over 18 as of the date of the elections shall be the object of electioneering, with the exception of persons who have been deprived of their legal capacity and persons serving a prison sentence. Preliminary Central Electoral Commission data show that there are 6,732,316 people on the electoral registers in the country. Under the Election Code, voting is mandatory for Bulgarian citizens though no penalty is envisaged for non-voters.

Compiled by Elena Karkalanova

English version: Milena Daynova

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