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06/12/22

Controversial Election Code Revisions Reach Parliament's Plenary Hall

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Revisions to the Election Code that will reinstate paper ballots in Bulgarian elections, among many other changes, are the first item on the Thursday agenda of Parliament. An agreement on that was reached among five of the seven parties in the legislature (minus Democratic Bulgaria and Continue the Change). 
Announcing the decision, GERB-UDF floor leader Dessislava Atanassova said that everybody has made "as many concessions as possible". Her own party has agreed to give up its proposal for raising (to 100 from 40) the number of voting applications required for the opening of an overseas voting section; the creation of an Abroad constituency; and the hand-count of the slips from the machine vote. "What GERB would not give up is allowing people to choose between voting on machines or paper ballots," she said.
The revisions
The revisions were pushed through the parliamentary legal affairs committee earlier in November, at an 18-hour night-long sitting, with the support of GERB-UDF, BSP for Bulgaria and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. They give voters an option to use a paper ballot or a machine, raise from 40 to 100 the number of voter applications required for the opening of a voting section abroad, disband the advisory expert Public Council with the Central Election Commission (CEC), and scrap a separate multi-member constituency for expatriate voters, which should have become effective after the results of the latest population census were officially announced on October 3, 2022.
Democratic Bulgaria and Continue the Change did their best to stop the revisions from going through and when they failed, they threatened to quit the legislature and sever ties with their former government coalition partner, BSP for Bulgaria. They also organized a protest in Sofia and other cities, which brought together thousands of ralliers. 
Meanwhile, GERB-UDF said they were willing to revisit the bill.

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