(DF) Borissov Lashes at Election Code Amendments

May 3 (BTA) – Outgoing Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov Monday criticized the recent revisions to the electoral legislation, saying they were damaging to democracy. The Election Code was amended conclusively at a nearly 14-hour debate on April 29, the last day before the Easter recess, and the changes were promulgated on May 1. Some of the amendments lift the limit of 35 voting sections for non-EU countries, reduce the number of CEC members from 18 now to 15, introduce video monitoring of the vote counting at the section election commissions, and provide for 100 per cent machine voting in sections with more than 300 voters in Bulgaria and abroad, with paper ballots used as an exception. Under the amended Election Code, the CEC will be appointed by the President after public consultations and according to a procedure established by the President, based on a nomination from the parties and coalitions represented in Parliament. Until now, the CEC Chairperson, Deputy Chairpersons and Secretary were elected by the National Assembly, whereas the rest of the members were appointed by the President. Borissov said the amendments were intended to place the Central Election Commission (CEC) in President Rumen Radev’s hands. “With [GERB power-sharing partner] VMRO failing to clear the 4 per cent electoral threshold, the MPs rushed to exclude the parties represented in the European Parliament from the CEC,” Borissov commented. Borissov also objected to the introduction of video monitoring of the vote count “if possible”. “Who will decide if this is possible and on what grounds?” he asked. He further said the April 4 parliamentary elections had cost 100 million leva. They were held amid a pandemic and were strictly monitored by observers, “and everybody said they were fair and well organized,” he said. In his view, new elections will again fail to lead to the formation of a cabinet and tens of millions of leva in taxpayer money will be wasted. Both election winner GERB and second-placed There Is Such a People party returned the cabinet-forming mandate, while the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) announced it would return the mandate when the President presents it on May 5. Quoting the Toxic Trio, the self-proclaimed leaders of last year’s anti-government protests, who called GERB “toxic”, Borissov said the BSP, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Democratic Bulgaria could also be referred to as toxic since no one wants to form a cabinet with them. DD

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