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The voting abroad was crucial for the final results of the election

The expectations of a massive wave of voters in Turkey were proved wrong

Photo: BGNES

The 11 July snap election is now history but analyses of the election results still dominate the media. In anticipation of the official constitution of the 46th National Assembly, we take a rather different view and analyze the way our compatriots living abroad voted.

In the words of sociologist from Gallup sociological agency Parvan Simeonov, the number of people who cast their vote abroad is around 180,000 – comparable to the number who voted in the parliamentary election in April even though an additional 300 polling stations were set up outside Bulgaria.

“Quite a lot of the Bulgarians abroad are in Bulgaria at the moment, and it seems there are quite a lot of people who saw no point in going to the polls this time around,” the sociologist commented in an interview for Radio Bulgaria.

He says that “the votes abroad were crucial for the final results of the elections” and the victory by ITN (There Is such a People) of showman and TV host Slavi Trifonov, but that the expectations of a “massive wave of voters in Turkey” were proved wrong. There are several explanations for this:

“With the coming of new generations the political process grows more and more political,” Parvan Simeonov says. “All parties of the status quo are losing votes. GERB lost 200,000, the United Patriots – from 200,000 votes at the previous elections in April are now down to 80,000. I am sure the same is true of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). Of course, with GERB and the MRF the restriction of some predictable votes also played a role. That, however, does not reverse the fact that in Turkey itself, the MRF did not achieve an outstanding result. Evidently there are now voters in Turkey who do not subscribe to the idea of some kind of mechanical commitment to that party.”

The explanation why the results of the so-called system parties abroad were so low may lie in the fact that the generation of Bulgarians living abroad, which is part of the process of outward labour migration, cast “protest” votes, rather than voting for the status quo.  Because more often than not it is the status quo that drove them to emigrate in the first place with no thought of returning to Bulgaria permanently.

As if to corroborate the fact that his party is definitely anti-system, without even waiting for the final results of the election to be announced, ITN’s leader Slavi Trifonov announced the composition of the government he intends to nominate to be voted by parliament. Its members, and the way this information was announced – from the screen of his own, private TV channel – came as a nasty surprise for practically all parties which will be part of the new parliament. Their leaders accused him of shunning dialogue and of aiming to replace the model now in place with a model that is very similar. And though logical, the move by the victor in these elections of assuming the entire responsibility by himself is something familiar to Bulgarians and is actually going out of fashion, as that is what Boyko Borissov did at the beginning of his first term of office in 2009, says Parvan Simeonov.

The fact that there are young people in the draft cabinet, with an education and experience in various spheres acquired abroad, is a well-worn practice, applied by the governments in the 2001-2009 period but this kind of déjà-vu is something people have grown weary of. Still, it is a good attempt at inclusion of the Bulgarians abroad, and, in the words of Parvan Simeonov, “we very much need them.” The search for people with such a profile will continue, the sociologist says:

“Regrettably, we Bulgarians have a very serious and deeply ingrained national inferiority complex. We are accustomed to always having to catch up with someone, and when we happen to succeed we just can’t believe it. Sometimes we are losers because that is how we perceive ourselves. This deep-going complex has its roots in history. We lost the wars for national unification and that has been such a major trauma down the years that Bulgarians who are successful abroad have come to be our biggest ideal.”

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