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The anti-system voting from abroad and how 18-year-old Silvia casted a ballot for the first time

Silvia Basile
Photo: private archive

The dramatically low voter turnout and resorting to protest voting are trends that are deepening among Bulgarians abroad, sociologists claim. Judging by the last few snap elections, the profile of our voters abroad is multifaceted and ... unpredictable. However, in the last three years, the vote from abroad has tipped the scales in favor of new parliamentary forces, including There Is Such a People, Vazrazhdane, We Continue the Change, and now Velichie. Many compatriots voted for small parties with seemingly minimal chances to clear the 4% threshold. Radio Bulgaria met with a girl who chose to trust such a formation.

Silvia Basile is a child of a mixed marriage. Her mother is Bulgarian, and her father is Italian. She was born and has lived in Rome for as long as she can remember, but she often returns to Bulgaria, where she has relatives and friends. Silvia studies piano and singing at a music school in the Italian capital. She turned 18 on May 11, and a month later she voted for the first time in her life at the Bulgarian Embassy in Rome. Like other representatives of Generation Z, Silvia is not entirely indifferent to politics, so she cast her ballot both for the Bulgarian National Assembly and the European Parliament. She admits that the party she voted for did not even clear the 4% threshold. What motivated her to vote for a small party?

''I talked with my mother and also with my grandfather who votes in Bulgaria, because I am not very familiar with politics. I familiarized myself with the platform of this party and I liked how it was written. Things are clearly stated, there are good ideas and the leader is a cultured person who can do something positive. The party didn't clear the 4% electoral threshold, but maybe it will succeed in the future", said Silvia.

The lack of political representation is one of the reasons that make people vote for small, unpopular parties. In addition, those living abroad seem more inclined to experiment with alternative voting.

For Silvia, the candidates' position on the war in Ukraine and the tense international situation turned out to be decisive, but not only:

Polling station in Rome

"I voted at the embassy and I voted for a Europe without war and a world that does not support the sending of weapons or economies linked to arms production. Environmental protection was also important to me, as well as the support of workers. Most people say they don't want war. But the most important thing is to NOT want weapons! When countries are heavily armed, they are ready for war, and it is inevitable. You cannot stop war with weapons. My vote was against sending weapons and against investing in the arming of any country.’’

Silvia studies in the Bulgarian Sunday School "Asen and Iliya Peykovi" in Rome. She has a magical voice and recently started singing Bulgarian folk songs accompanied by Stefan Borgodzhiyski who plays the bagpipe. Stefan is her music teacher at the Sunday school. The young girl dreams of devoting herself to art. She insists that it's important to be civic-minded and exercise our right to vote.

18-year-old Silvia plays the guitar and performs Bulgarian songs

She also commented on the record-low voter turnout in the latest elections. 

''I noticed that older people stop voting. They say it's pointless, that there's no one worth voting for, because they don't like anyone. But maybe they haven't paid enough attention to the smaller parties that can contribute to the development of the country with something good, something new!", concludes 18-year-old Silvia Basile.

See also: 

Published and translated by Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: Silvia Basile's private archive; BTA

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