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Bulgaria: Election Law Reform Proposed

(July 2, 2008) On June 17, 2008, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov submitted to the Parliament a set of bills that would amend the existing election system and initiate political reform. The proposal, which was preliminarily approved by the legislature, affects laws on political parties, campaign financing, and election of the members of the national legislature. The amendments introduce a two-tier election system, with elements of both majoritarian and proportional models, whereby parties would initially compete among themselves and then the party that won in a particular district would designate a number of candidates, one of whom would be elected by the majority of the popular vote within the constituency. It is believed that this measure will contribute to better public recognition of the representatives. Special requirements are introduced in regard to party registration. In order to be able to participate in nationwide elections, a political party must have branches in at least two-thirds of the Bulgarian municipalities, evenly distributed among all the nation's regions. Only parties that received at least one percent of the vote in the previous election will be able to nominate their candidates for a new electoral cycle. Registration of a political party will be cancelled if a party does not receive more than one percent of voters' support during two consecutive elections.

In order to secure better financial transparency of political parties, state financing of parties participating in national elections will be increased, and financing of political campaigns by legal entities will be prohibited. A single public payment account subject to government monitoring will be established by each political party for the purpose of receiving donations and making payments during election campaigns. (Bulgaria President Proposes New Political Model, BULGARIA ECONOMIC FORUM DAILY NEWS, June 17, 2008, available at the Emerging Markets Database.