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One more election campaign kicks off in Bulgaria

Photo: BGNES

As of today the election campaign is officially on in Bulgaria, after none of the parties from the previous, 45th National Assembly, the elections for which took place on 4 April this year, were able to form a cabinet. The new elections are scheduled for 11 July. The election campaign of the candidates for the National Assembly will last 29 days and will officially end on 9 July, 2021. 10 July will be election silence day and election campaigning will be prohibited.

According to the Election Code, during the election campaigning for the 46th National Assembly, citizens, parties, coalitions, nomination committees, candidates and election agents 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. An important requirement is that election campaigning can only take place in the Bulgarian language.

Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic the health authorities are advising politicians to take precautions for the health of voters by holding their campaigning remotely and organizing public meetings with the public out in the open, and using protective equipment. The responsibility for the way the election events are organized rests with the organizers and the Interior Ministry authorities.

Over the next 30 days publication of anonymous promotional election material is prohibited, as is material violating the principles of morality or material which is damaging to the good name and reputation of any of the candidates. Promotional material must not incorporate the coat of arms and/or the national flag of the Republic of Bulgaria, of any foreign state, or any religious images or signs. Political campaigning is prohibited during the election campaign in public transport, state and municipal, at public institutions or enterprises.

Public service media, Bulgarian National TV, and Bulgarian National Radio, are obligated to provide objective and fair coverage of the initiatives of the candidates, registered by the parties, coalitions and nomination committees, with due regard for their equality and their importance. The rules for this are set down by the Central Election Commission. The election campaign is given coverage by public service media in various forms, but always during time slots specifically designated for that purpose and indicated as such.

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

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 Election Commission data show that there are 6,711,048 people on the election registers. Under the Election Code, voting by Bulgarian citizens is mandatory though no sanctions have been envisaged for non-voters. The Central Election Commission admitted 15 parties and 8 coalitions to participate in the elections on 11 July. 8 organizations, 1 international and 7 national, have so far been registered as observers.

Bulgarian citizens abroad have until 15 June to submit a preliminary application to vote abroad. A polling station is set up in the locations where no less than 40 applications have been submitted. The Foreign Ministry is expecting the number of polling stations abroad to reach 800 – more than double the number of polling stations during the elections on 4 April this year. 568 polling stations are to be set up automatically by force of the new Election Code rule – at the embassies and consulates where there has been at least one polling station with 100 voters in the past 5 years.

Editing by Yoan Kolev

Photos: BGNES and library
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