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Bulgarians abroad report about issues related to election process

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Photo: mfa.bg

The Bulgarian authorities have managed to adequately organize the election process but there are still some problems that need to be addressed, a report of the mission of international observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), published on 3 October, shows.

“The campaign was competitive, with a range of contestants representing different views. It was often negative in tone, however, and marked by mutual accusations among the parties of corruption or wrongdoing,” the document reads. Diminished accuracy of the voter lists, as well as the lack of accessibility functions to enable voters with certain disabilities to vote independently, were also reported as issues that need to be addressed.

In the backdrop of these findings, there were other irregularities that did not hinder the election process, but were nevertheless annoying. Two stories reported to Radio Bulgaria come from the German cities of Memmingen and Essen and at first glance the events they describe are happening completely legally.

Margarita Takacs is one of the election volunteers driven by desire to enable a maximum number of people to exercise their right to vote. However, health problems beyond her control forced her to withdraw her candidacy as a member of the election commission in Memmingen for the vote on October 2. She did this four days before election day and according to her, there was enough time to make a decision for erasing her name from the list of commission members. Margarita notified both the CEC and the diplomatic representation of Bulgaria in Munich about her decision.

Margarita Takacs

"Although I sent my request four days before the elections, such a decision was never made until the end of election day and even after that. This happened despite calls from the chairman of the sectional commission, as well as from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A verbal commitment was made that the change would be included in the next decision. We waited until the final decision, which came out at 6pm yesterday. The change was not there. At first glance the problem might seem negligibly small because it concerns just one participant in a commission. However, this issue is part of the context of the way elections are conducted outside the country."

According to Margarita Takacs, the possibility for such problems to emerge exists during all elections and can happen to any member of sectional commissions. This is evident from the decisions on similar shifts, which the CEC publishes on its website.

"My withdrawal forced the person who replaced me to spend the whole day in the section without being able to take an active part in the election process, as he was not designated as a member of the commission and did not have the right to touch the papers,” Margarita says. "I very much hope that this incident happened unintentionally and was not aimed at demotivating the volunteer teams."

Ivaylo Simeonov

Attempts to replace commission members already proposed by the volunteers with people nominated by the parties is another unpleasant moment for Bulgarian compatriots abroad, which they often face despite their desire to have a trouble-free election day. Ivaylo Simeonov from the city of Essen contacted Radio Bulgaria to tell us about this. He expressed his desire to be the chairman of one of the section commissions in the city and found six more volunteers, as well as two reserve members. Subsequently, it became clear that only two of the proposed candidates remained in the list approved by the CEC, and his name was also missing.

"The interference of the parties in this process is unnecessary, considering that a large part of the volunteers who deal with the organization of the voting process are not politically bound and do not want to be drawn under the umbrella of one party or another in any way. For us, election days are a small holiday when we have the opportunity to gather, fulfill our civic duty and feel closer to the Motherland by giving our compatriots from the city and the surrounding area the opportunity to cast their votes."

On election day, there was no shortage of other curious incidents, such as the fact that Bulgarians voted more easily in Bucharest than in Ruse. This is what Vladimir Mitev, Radio Bulgaria's correspondent for the election day in Romania, reported. You can find more about this HERE

Compatriots in Argentina also alarmed about impossibility of exercising their right to vote.

English: Al. Markov

Photos: personal library
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