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Expectations of snap parliamentary elections and hopes of a more modern administration of the country

Radio Bulgaria vox pop: Civil society in this country must be the catalyst of the change it wants to see

Photo: Ani Petrova

A little over 6.6 million Bulgarians are eligible to vote today. For the fourth time within the space of 18 months, their votes will determine who is going to sit in Bulgaria’s 240-seat parliament. We asked members of the public what their attitudes and expectations are for the country after 2 October. What we sensed was fatigue, a clear desire to see change and transparency in political governance, as well as a tentative hope that this is going to happen in the future 48th National Assembly.

Today’s snap election is by no means a surprise for Elena from Sofia, who is in her late 30s, has two children and runs a business of her own:

“Even though I was hoping that the coalition would reach an agreement and things wouldn’t come to this I am not surprised,” she says, and adds that she believes the reason for this is that there are too many different interests that are behind what society actually sees. Alexandra agrees:

“I was expecting this to happen because politicians seem to lean more towards upholding their own interests than the interests of the entire nation.”

Martin, who works in the sphere of IT, admits he was somewhat surprised by how the situation developed.

“But, on the other hand, the political scene in Bulgaria has always been unpredictable so maybe that was to be expected,” he says but adds he is definitely going to exercise his right to vote:

“I believe that with these conflicts during the past year, and now with the inflation throughout the world we all need to take a stand and uphold it. Voting is one way to do that. I myself will vote for what is new and different to the political scene in this country,” he says.

“We have an obligation to exercise our right to choose the people who are going to govern us. Otherwise things are going to repeat themselves,” says Maya, a young mother. “I do not believe the political promises everyone is making. I place more trust in individuals whom I like, and they are the people I am going to cast my vote for, and that will be my choice of a future for my family, for my child,” she says. 

“I will vote for more honesty and more transparency in the way the country is governed,” Elena explains. “My vote will be so that it will be easier for things to happen in Bulgaria – starting with the digitization of more processes and everything that is being done, such as projects, being more visible and clear to everyone. I am hoping this is going to happen. It will be a slow process for certain. But I believe people are beginning to change their attitudes and their way of thinking, and that civil society has to be the catalyst that will lead the way so this change can take place.”

“I want a better life for the children now growing up, for the people now developing. Potential jobs for more people, and no discriminatory practices,” Alexandra says.

The frequent elections these past two years have more and more poignantly raised the question of the voting by Bulgarians abroad. 50,865 applications were submitted as of 6 September, 2022, the deadline for submitting applications to the Central Electoral Commission for voting abroad. A total of 755 polling stations are being created in 61 countries, the highest number being in Turkey – 166, UK – 126, Germany – 77, Greece – 72, Spain – 65.

Are Bulgarians abroad in a capacity to make a sufficiently informed choice, and do they have the right to decide the future of the people living in Bulgaria – these were just two of the questions that have been hanging heavy in the air since the parliamentary election in November 2021.

“I think that Bulgarians abroad, especially in the several elections we have had recently, have contributed significantly to the outcome. I myself believe they have the right to vote,” says Maya.

Martin, on his part, says it is their civic responsibility:

“I believe that all Bulgarian citizens, wherever they may be have the right to vote for the future of their country. We shouldn’t forget that many of these people’s families still live here. They have a responsibility as voters to their country,” Martin says.

“Let us not forget that at any given time they could decide to come back here. I also think that our fellow-countrymen who live abroad see what is happening here much more objectively because they have no political preconceptions,” Elena says.

We shall monitor how many of our compatriots living outside Bulgaria will exercise their right to vote today. But will this election be able to translate the hopes of a brighter tomorrow into parliamentary reality?

“I try to keep a positive attitude,” Martin says. “Even though it has not been difficult to be negative in recent years. I am hoping for the best, but what will happen we are yet to see.”

“Unfortunately, my own feeling is that things are not going to change and we are not going to have a functioning parliament, and that will lead to one more parliamentary election,” concludes Maya, in a comment for Radio Bulgaria on today’s parliamentary election in the country.

Photos: Ani Petrova, BGNES, Facebook /RodinaSydney

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