Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

ORJ casts doubts that its campaign is too expensive

Adelina Marini, June 5, 2009

Order, rule of law and justice (ORJ) cast serious doubts on whether how they can afford such an expensive pre-election campaign and whether they will be able to fit in the limit of 1 mn levs (0,5 mn euro) expenses for the campaign. This is what representatives of non-governmental organisations, united in the coalition "I vote myself" have found out. "For the whole stretch of the "Trakiya" highway from the 1st km to the 209th in both directions there are 47 billboards of ORJ. It will be very interesting for us, when the leader of this party Yane Yanev, after the elections, would give us the possibility, as he promised today, to see their financial report for the campaign expenses so that we could see whether the expenses are comparable to the facts", Katya Hristova, programme directors of association "Transparency without borders" explained. The association is th initiator of the coalition "I vote myself". Coalition for Bulgaria (consisting of socialist parties) also demonstrates abundance, but more detailed information "I vote myself" promised to give after the elections.

Gheorghi Stoychev from "Open society" presented an opinion poll which shows that 6% have declared their willingness to sell their vote, 10% claimed that they would take the money but vote as they like, 5% - will take the money and will not vote and 13% are hesitant on how they would react if offered money for their vote. 65% of the respondents have said that they will not take money. Another interesting result in this opinion polls is about the measures for punishment those who sell and buy votes. Again 6% said that selling a vote shouldn't be considered a crime as it is a normal political practice, for 26% there is nothing that could be done to stop it. For 25% the most effective measure would be the introduction of higher fines and some 13% support prison sentence. Another 13% propose depriving of the right to vote, while for 10% the most effective measure would be probation.

The analyst Ognyan Minchev raised the issue of the negative campaign by suggesting that it is being practiced by the parties that have permanent supporters and they aim to repel the other voters from the elections. He also thinks that the aim is achieved. But it is a fact that black campaigns are very popular in American elections too. In an interview for euinside Ognyan Minchev said: "The negative campaign is a normal political component for any political campaign, undoubtedly, but in the US, beside the negative campaign, there were debates in which the candidates were being asked in detail, issue by issue, aspect by aspect what they think and how they were to govern. In other words there the programme debate is very detailed and no one can divert from it. Here, beside the negative campaign, there is no other serious and positive debate".

As part of the exceptions Ognyan Minchev named Meglena Kuneva (NDSV - National Movement for Stability and Progress and also a European Commissioner) and Svetoslav Malinov (The Blue coalition and a analyst) because they try to talk in depth on European issues. According to Minchev, in the other member states political leaders take part in public debates on important for the EU issues like the Lisbon Treaty, the financial crisis and other problems which the Union is facing. But it is also a fact that in other member states quite often the domestic issues dominate the campaigns. Is it not because in many member states the European elections are combined with some other type of elections, like in the UK - there are local elections as well?

OGNYAN MINCHEV: "Was it not the reason why the governing parties decided to distinguish the two elections by holding them with one month delay, so that we could vote twice, with 2 campaigns, with double financing so that the European issues could be better distinguished than the national. AT least this was the explanation!"

But the European campaign has been poured into the national but for Ognyan Minchev there wasn't European campaign at all. But here an important question is whether the European institutions themselves could be more active?

OGNYAN MINCHEV: "In Europe there is some over domination of the administrative component which actually neglects this type of information interaction between member states, the regions, the elements and nations in the EU. But this is why it was important, from a Bulgarian perspective, these issues to be brought to the public attention, furthermore we are a new member of the EU and we need to be informed additionally. Beside this we are a member of the EU that caused a crisis of its membership in the very beginning and that is another, very important reason for a serious, in depth debate for these elections".

People do not vote for abstract political messages but for persons, Minchev added in response to the question of euinside what might be the reason for most of the parties to nominate very strong figures to lead their lists for MEPs. Such decisions were taken by parties that do not strong figures for their leaders and were forced to search for them outside the parties. The person, in fact, personalizes a specific political message and makes it vivid, concluded Ognyan Minchev.