>Parties indifferent to Bulgarian President’s electoral reform plans

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As might perhaps have been anticipated, the Bulgarian President’s package of electoral and party regulation reforms, reports the Sofia Echo, has met an indifferent-to-frosty reputation from parties of the governing coalition – like most CEE presidents (and unlike President Basescu in neighbouring Romania) Bulgaria’s President Purvanov is not a big political player. The declining Movement for Stability and Progress, of ex-PM and -man-who-would-be-king-if-Bulgaria- was-monarchy, Simeon Saxe-Coburg, are according to the Echo against it because as a small party they would lose out from any more majoritarian system and, as they rightly, point out because it isn’t the most obvious solution to (supposed) problems of vote-buying. However, the Movement’s website reports that it is in favour of some form of mixed electoral system, although it seems to see the ‘majoritarian’ element partly in terms of allowing voters greater choice of individual candidate by freeing up the system of preferential voting allow electors to re-order the ranking on party lists. Other small parties like the far right Ataka bloc are against, presumably for similar reasons. The Turkish minority party, the Movement for Rights and Freedom’s, also has more to lose than to gain: there seem to be concentrated minorities of ethnic Turks in five of Bulgaria’s 28 districts (see map), suggesting about the same level of parliamentary representation for the MRF as now (assuming lack of ethnic polarization). However, any new electoral system, especially one with a less proportional outcome, might deprive the MRF would lose its pivotal kingmaking status, so the party would have to risjk much for limited gains.
The Bulgarian Socialists, who might, as a big, once very dominant party, have something to gain electorally, also now seem lukewarm. The Sofia Echo quotes Socialist PM Sergei Stanisheas saying that the “BSP had already bet on the majority element in the 2007 elections for European Parliament, but this did not lead to great results”, although I’m not clear if that means the euroelections were held using some kind of ‘mixed’ MMP system.The Bulgarian election commission’s website suggests that it was a straightforward party-listed based proportional contest, although unfortunately I can’t read enough Bulgarian to read the technical summary.

With heroic optimism (and a certain disregard for the facts) President Purvanov sums up the result of his abortive roundtable on report by as saying that “we all seem to be in favor of introducing a stronger majority element in the elections but no one wants to take the responsibility and make the decision in favour of it.” Not how I read it.

Meanwhile, in a separate development the Echo also reports that the country’s two Green parties have merged.

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