Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

OSCE will monitor the Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria

Adelina Marini, May 18, 2009

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights - Elections which is part of the OSCE has received an invitation from the Bulgarian authorities to monitor the Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria on the 5th of July. This is what the spokesman of the Office Jens-Hagen Eschenbaecher said in response to an inquiry of euinside. Very soon will be sent a needs assessment mission which will look at the pre-election situation and electoral framework, and will make a recommendation as to whether ODIHR should observe the election, and if so in which format.

The Office sent its own mission for the presidential elections in 2006 and for the previous Parliamentary vote in 2005. In their report for the National elections in 2005 the experts say: "The parliamentary election on 25 June demonstrated the credibility of the election process in Bulgaria, but some issues of both an administrative and political nature did introduce a measure of uncertainty and decreased confidence in the process, and in some instances represented a departure from best electoral practice. Some unique and unilateral government-led efforts to increase voter turnout were introduced, and in manner that was not fully transparent". This is related to the lottery that the government of prime minister Simeon Saxecobourggotta introduced to boost activity.

Another conclusion in the report of OSCE for the elections 4 years ago is: "The legal framework generally provides a clear framework for the conduct of democratic elections. However, as evidenced during this election process, the responsibilities between the executive authorities and the election administration are not sufficiently detailed in the legislation".

There were also remarks for the media and more specifically for the media legislation which obliges media to report in a specific way the elections campaign: "However, according to law, only special campaign-related programs are provided for in the state media, and participation in these programs must be paid for by the electoral contestants. This ultimately can disadvantage parties with limited financial resources".

And last but not least, the experts from OSCE confirmed the buying of votes phenomenon: "OSCE/ODIHR observers directly confirmed widespread concerns related to organized attempts to influence the vote of Bulgaria’s Roma communities, including vote buying".

It will be very interesting to see what the assessments of their mission will be for the elections on the 5th of July because of the serious changes, made by the Parliament in the very last minute before the voting. Some of them, like the introduction of 8 % barrier for coalitions has been rejected by the Constitutional court, but others remained like the pseudo majority element and all related to it legislation.