GERB Floor Leader Explains Why His Party Voted to Change Preference Voting Rules

GERB Floor Leader Explains Why His Party Voted to Change Preference Voting Rules

ESD 18:27:31 16-02-2019

GERB Floor Leader Says His Party
Voted along with MRF and Changed
Preference Voting Rules to Avoid Political Crisis

Sofia, February 16 (BTA) - GERB floor leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov explained Saturday that it was important for his party to vote along with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) for changing the rules for preference voting on February 14, because political stability in the country was at stake. "Those were provisions [in the Election Code] on which some consensus had to be reached for the 44th National Assembly to continue working and to ensure stability for the government's continued successful performance," Tsvetanov told Nova TV.

Preference voting allows a voter to mark a candidate of his choice, who, given enough preference votes, can move up the party list of candidates and improve his or her chance of getting elected. The MRF-authored revisions, which were voted conclusively on February 14, increase the required number of votes to allow such rearrangement of the candidates list, making it equal to the number of votes needed for election of a member of the European Parliament, the national parliament or a municipal council - and make such rearrangement next to impossible.

Rough estimates show that to move up the party list, a candidate will need 150,000 preferences in European Parliament elections and 15,000 preferences in parliamentary elections, compared to 2,000 or 3,000 preferences now.

The proposal was adopted by a vote of 98-58 after a two-hour debate. The votes in favour came from GERB, the MRF and seven MPs of the National Federation for Salvation of Bulgaria, a member of the power-sharing United Patriots coalition. The Bulgarian Socialist Party and United Patriots member VMRO voted against.

Tsvetanov said on Nova TV that he told his parliamentary group: "This is the decision we can make and I want us to choose whether we want to have early elections, political chaos in the country and a crisis in Parliament, or to reach a certain consensus."

He concluded: "That's life. Sometimes one must take a step back only to take two steps forward."

It is not power but the State that was at stake, he said.

On Friday, Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov attributed the Election Code amendments to the parliamentary group, saying that he had not been involved in any way.

Tsvetanov called "fake news" comments that GERB wants to curtail the citizens right to vote and to ensure a default election victory for the party. He said the persistent production of fake news, which "often involves President Rumen Radev and the Bulgarian Socialist Party", is one aspect of the hybrid warfare Russia has conducted against Bulgaria since 2015.

In a Facebook post, Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova wrote that Tsvetanov stated the truth about a new ruling coalition made up of GERB, the MRF and the United Patriots. DD

Source: Sofia