by gradinski chai
Fri Jun 24th, 2005 at 08:01:38 AM EST
Promoted from the diaries by Colman
The sounds of various election concerts and some very loud fireworks shook Sofia and other Bulgarian cities last night as we all prepared for Bulgarian elections tommorow, 25 June.
Mildly curious? Just have some time to spare? Planning a vacation? Here's a rundown on what is likely to happen...
Bulgaria uses a party list proportional representation system with a 4% threshold. (For those not familiar with PR systems, this means that a party must get more than 4% of the total vote in order to enter parliament.)
With this in mind, it looks like a cliffhanger with turnout really going to be a key factor.
After tiring of reforms that have left many rural areas and parts of cities in dire straits, voters are likely to penalize the ruling centerish National Movement for Simeon II. Simeon II, who was a child king of Bulgaria before being forced into exile by the communists, returned in 2001 to become the only monarch that has been put into political office by a free election.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is likely to take the largest block of voters (some 35%). They have been strongly behind the Bulgarian troop withdrawal that has already been voted in parliament. Under a 30-something year old leader, the BSP has been trying to modernize and finally adjust to the European family of Socialist Parties (PES).
The National Movement for Simeon II will likely take 15-17% of the vote.
The Union of Democratic Forces (the bulk of what remains of the original anti-communist coalition) will likely take 8-11% of the vote. Two other right splinter formations are seen as taking another 7-10% of the vote. So it's possible that one or both won't pass the threshold.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a center-left party dominated by Bulgaria's Turkish minority, should take its traditional 7-8% of the vote. While Turkish-Bulgarian relations are quite good in the country, there is much dislike among Bulgarians for the MRF's leader, Ahmed Dogan.
Unfortunately, the scary right has its first opportunity to enter parliament through a tv personality on a minor cable channel. The political formation "Attack" (yes, you read that correctly) brings an anti-Roma and a stronger nationalist message to Bulgarian politics. Bulgaria, singularly in the Balkans, has escaped ethnic troubles due to a combination of Bulgarians' notable tolerance, good leadership on the right, the Communist's campaigns to change the names of Bulgarian Turks in the 1980s, and the presence of the Turkish party in parliament. Until this time, we've had the traditional and free market right in several parties (Union of Democratic Forces, Bulgarian National Union, and others), but no scary right.
The curious thing to outsiders, but not those who know the past of the Bulgarian Communist Party (now the mostly reformed BSP), is that pollsters are saying that part of the BSP's supposedly "left" electorate is moving to support "Attack." This is in part a response to the Bulgarian Socialist Party's announcement that it would be very comfortable seeking a coaltion with the Turkish MRF.
Unlikely to pass the threshold will be Euroroma, a leftish party supported by a portion of the Roma population (some 6%). Euroroma has decided to take the celebrity route to parliament by putting up several pop folk singers and a former Playboy model as candidates. Some of us in the center and left would like to see them pass threshold if only to have Asis, a openly bisexual and very flamboyant singer, walk into parliament wearing something typical for him...maybe something like a bright red jumpsuit studded with sequins...exotic eye makeup...and a feather boa.
For even more info, you can check out English language news on the subject at Novinite. (WARNING: Some translations are sometimes curiously phrased such as the habit to use "ladies" most of the time.)