(DF) Bulgaria Holds Presidential, Parliamentary Elections

November 14 (BTA) – Regular presidential and early parliamentary elections are held simultaneously in Bulgaria on Sunday. Bulgarian elections are conducted in this combination for the first time ever. The parliamentary polls are the third ones this year, after the legislatures elected on April 4 and July 11 failed to render up a government and had to be dissolved. A total of 6,708,189 Bulgarian citizens at home and abroad, who are aged 18 by polling day, are not interdicted and do not serve a custodial sentence, are eligible to elect a president and vice president of the Republic and 240 members of the next, 47th Ordinary National Assembly. They can choose from among 23 pairs of candidates for president and vice president, of whom 12 are fielded by parties, 2 by coalitions, and 9 are independents, and from among 5,065 candidates for Parliament nominated by 20 parties and 7 coalitions and 2 independent candidates. Incumbent President Rumen Radev and Vice President Iliana Iotova are running for a second term. The polls opened at 7:00 a.m. and will close at 8:00 p.m. By exception, if voters are still waiting outside the polling site at 8:00 p.m., voting may continue until 9:00 p.m. Balloting is taking place in 12,990 voting sections in Bulgaria and in 751 voting sections in 68 countries. In the 9,399 domestic and 208 overseas sections with over 300 voters, machine voting is the only method that can be employed, and 2,121 of the sections in Bulgaria and all sections abroad have two machines each to prevent long waiting times. Paper ballots are used in the remaining 5,808 sections at home and 543 sections abroad, as well as for voting by a mobile ballot box (servicing disabled voters and those quarantined at their permanent address as COVID-19 infected or contacts), at hospitals, nursing homes and other social care institutions, at prisons and pre-trial detention facilities, and on board Bulgarian-flagged ships. Voting by paper ballot is also envisaged as a back-up option, in case a machine fails, which is why all sections have been supplied with the appropriate quantity of this election stationery. Any such switch will require a decision of the Central Election Commission. The November 14 elections are monitored by 20 Bulgarian non-governmental organizations with over 4,000 observers and four international and foreign organizations. Four sociological agencies have registered to conduct exit polls on polling day. Exit poll results may not be made public and commented on by politicians, pollsters and journalists before 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. LG