Statement issued by the observer delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) following the first round of the 2011 Bulgarian national and local elections held on 23 October 2011.
Full text follows below:
Bulgarian Presidential Election: Statement by PACE Observer Delegation
Strasbourg, 24.10.2011 – “The observer delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) welcomes Bulgaria’s continuous progress towards the implementation of its commitments vis-à-vis the Council of Europe in the field of democratic elections. In this connection, the delegation notes, in particular, Bulgaria’s co-operation with PACE in the framework of post-monitoring dialogue as well as with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
The delegation was impressed with the dedication and efficiency of Bulgarian electoral administrators. It further noted the arrangement put together by the Supreme Administrative Court to deal with election-related complaints and appeals. The delegation was heartened by the overall orderly and peaceful conduct of the vote.
At the same time, there remain certain aspects that need to be further addressed.
The new electoral code, while a clear step forward, must have been adopted quickly leaving open quite a few important issues.
Contestants’ access to the media is in clear need of drastic improvement to ensure a level playing field for all concerned.
A clearer distinction has to be made by the media as far as editorial and paid political advertisements are concerned.
The Central Electoral Commission should conduct its work with greater transparency and its composition should be such as to ensure broader public confidence in the process. Thought should be given to the eventual establishment of a permanent, independent and non-political electoral commission.
Bulgarian authorities may wish to consider establishing a dedicated voters’ register, as opposed to a register formed from the population lists compiled by local authorities.
The process of registration of the candidates, whilst remaining rigorous, should be made less dependent upon timing, as the current system has a particularly unhelpful impact upon independent candidates.
Arrangements for out-of-country voting should be significantly improved to ensure real universality of suffrage.
A more lenient approach to campaigning in languages other than Bulgarian would be welcome.
The delegation was in Bulgaria from 20 to 24 October 2011 at the invitation of the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament. It had an intensive programme of meetings with presidential candidates and/or their representatives, the Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission, top representatives of the Supreme Administrative Court, the Bulgarian PACE delegation, a representative cross-section of civil society and the media, the Head of the EC Representation in Bulgaria and with the OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission.
PACE stands ready to provide further assistance to Bulgaria in its endeavours along the road of further enhancing democracy.”
Members of the PACE delegation:
Brian Binley (United Kingdom, EDG), Head of the Delegation
Marton Braun (Hungary, EPP/CD)
Janusz Rachón (Poland, EPP/CD)
Luca Volontè (Italy, EPP/CD)
Oleksiy Plotnikov (Ukraine, SOC)
Gisela Wurm (Austria, SOC)
Ganira Pashayeva (Azerbaijan, EDG)
Lenka Andrysova (Czech Republic, ALDE)
Katerina Konecna (Czech Republic, UEL)
Dimitros Papadimoulis (Greece, UEL).