Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

HOW SOCIALISTS INTRODUCED PARTISANISM IN MAJORITY ELECTIONS

The topic for radical changes to the political system in Bulgaria disappeared from the agenda of the ruling coalition immediately after Brussels informed Sofia that the country faced more serious problems than that how to organize elections. For months on end before that politicians, encouraged by the President, vowed publicly they supported changes so that we may finally have honest calculations of the voting results, stop the practice of buying votes and have competent people in legislative and executive power as well as in local authorities.
We didn't need prophets to tell us that the political status quo would stay unchanged not only during the Parliament's summer holidays, but also at least until the middle of their winter session. At the beginning of early autumn (September 10), MPs will come back from their 40-day paid leave. They are in the middle of nowhere with the anti-corruption laws and why on earth should they interest themselves in voters or in the law on political parties? At the beginning of July there was a discussion organized by President Georgi Parvanov, where all parliamentary presented political parties and the largest ones that are still not in the National Assembly, GERB, as well as experts on political and social sciences took part. There, in anything else, it turned out that President Parvanov was talking to himself. Otherwise we cannot explain the fact that his once political comrades from the period before he entered in office, do whatever pleases them. The remaining partners of the ruling coalition, the Simeon II National Movement and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, although not so dear to his heart, pretend to listen politely, but go their own way, too.
Before pointing out once again what would confront MPs
in order to keep the political status quo
at any price, it is worth mentioning where the question about repairing the electoral system emerged from. At the beginning of this year, the head of state said he wanted to see less proportional elements in the general and local elections. All parliamentary-presented parties (plus GERB which still has no MPs in the National Assembly) agreed with the President… and didn't stir a finger to do anything about that.
At the beginning of July they were all summoned to the mentioned discussion. Days before that the President reminded angrily in two interviews (to a daily paper and to the largest private TV channel) that he has not denounced his ideas. Then a seven-hour debate followed that was directly aired on TV. At the debate, those who were closest to the opinion of Parvanov were, of course, the socialists. Two weeks after that they elaborated something that was very different from what President Parvanov had in mind and from the concept of majority (mixed) electoral system. We can say for sure that what the political central of the socialist party created was absolutely unique and can't be seen anywhere else on earth. At a session of the executive bureau of the socialists from late July, it was decided the party would fight for its idea only parties to be eligible to propose … independent candidates for MPs. That is, the independent candidates will be independent but - not that much. The stupidity in what the socialist party proposes is so obvious that the political commentators at first were struck dumb. In autumn, they will surely speak up and will explain certain things to the socialists. The first thing is that the present law allows initiative committees, as part of the civil society, to propose independent candidates. The second one is that
this is not the way to stop the practice of buying votes
but the way to make it thrive. The independent candidate (a bandit, a shadowy businessman or a local feudal) will buy votes and will buy a small party, too. The other reasons are connected with the fact that the political leaders of the socialists have had no time to read the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria for quite a long now, because they were busy writing their own statutes. Bulgaria's constitution says that the sovereignty of the people is guaranteed by its right to take part in elections. If the civil society remains deprived of its right to launch candidates, it is at least the non-government sector that will make a terrible to-do. And it will have the right to. Maybe this is the aim of the move - the things to remain unchanged and general elections scheduled for June next year to be carried out in the same, all too familiar way. The less people vote, the better for the socialists and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. In case the scenario gets somehow approved, which, according to their partners from the Simeon II National Movement, is impossible, the socialist party has a plan B. They will propose the votes submitted for the independent candidates and the proportional lists to be combined. This would be the basis for calculation of a party's total number of MPs, and the independently elected MPs would be the first to enter Parliament. They would be part of the political group of the party that proposed them.
If someone sees changes to the political status quo, he or she must have misunderstood something. And what about the President's idea for strong civil society as opposed to the vicious, according to the President himself, political system?
Version 69
The political headquarters of the socialists said their ideas were yet to be mulled over with their political partners. They have in mind to propose to the Simeon II National Movement and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms another innovation as regards the regional parceling of the country. The socialists hesitate whether to propose 31 or 69 independent regions. In both cases there will be registering of political lists in the separate regions and parties will name their candidates in them. The figure 69 seems more possible because according to the calculations of the socialists, this will equalize voting regions in terms of voters - each region will thus contain almost 100,000 people. It is clear even now that both the Simeon II National Movement and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms have different views on the problem. Simeon II's party fellows think that the majority element in the voting should be the voters' right to rearrange the candidates in parties' lists according to their likings. Tsarists also insist on referendum on whether the voting to become compulsory, or at least to have tax incentives for 'regular' voters in working age and financial bonuses for pensioners who vote. According to socialists, however, both the ideas are not serious enough. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, although pretending to agree with the President, show no activity whatsoever in the discussion for repair of the political system. In spite of that, Dogan's people have their own visions as to where and from where they may transfer votes from abroad. They are hardly likely to agree with the proposal of the socialists the transfers to be allowed only to a particular constituency and will insist on preserving at least several of their strongholds.
As for now - there is only one thing certain and that is the parliamentary autumn will begin with many quarrels and little work done.

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