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Back to Paper Details
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Reforming Electoral System in Bulgaria – Factors, Actors and Failures

Petia Gueorguieva
New Bulgarian University
Petia Gueorguieva
New Bulgarian University

Abstract

The paper proposed is focusing on case study of the changes of the Bulgarian voting laws since the first election for the EP in 2007 to the adoption of the Electoral code in 2011. The study aims to analyze the factors and actor’s strategies for voting reform (decreasing turnout, decline of traditional parties, rise of new populist entrants, lack of stable institutionalization of the party system). From 1991 to 2009 the Bulgarian electoral system is proportional with 4% threshold for all parties and coalitions. In 2007 the vote for some Bulgarian citizens, living in Turkey was limited (aimed to stop the so called electoral tourism). For the general elections in 2009 the ruling coalition of the socialist party BSP with the National Movement Simeon II NDSV and the Movement for rights and freedoms DPS imposed a controversial majority rule for 31 out of the 240 MPs and the rise of the threshold from 4 to 8% for coalitions. The latter provision was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. Only the DPS had elected 5 out of the 31 majority MPs, while the new party GERB won 26. The main actor of this reform – the BSP didn’t have any majority MPs and the NDSV has disappeared from the parliament. This attempt to set up a mixed system failed. GERB ruling from 2009 didn’t change the electoral system into a mixed one but limited the eligibility of some mayors in the recently adopted and controversial Electoral code. Our hypothesis is that the even the factors of reforming electoral system tend a long term rise of the voter’s activity and the institutionalization of the party system their achievement is offering the short term calculations of different political actors.