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Bulgaria Presidential election well administered, although accuracy of voters’ lists remains a concern

Strasbourg, 07.11.2016 - An 8-member delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) , led by Mr Joseph O'Reilly (Ireland, EPP/CD) and accompanied by representatives of the Venice Commission, visited Bulgaria from 3 to 7 November 2016 in order to observe the presidential election.

The delegation met with presidential candidates or their representatives, with the Central Election Commission, with members of the Bulgarian delegation to the PACE as well as with representatives of the media and of civil society.

The delegation concluded that the election was technically well administered and fundamental freedoms were respected. The election administration worked in a professional, scrupulous and transparent manner. The relatively high turnout can be considered as the expression of the hope for a long-lasting political stability in the country.

The campaign was competitive and an increase of public confidence in the electoral procedures was observed. However, the electoral campaign was low-key and the media did not show much interest in reporting on the election. There was no public debate on substantial issues among the main candidates.

The accuracy of the voters’ lists remains a concern. Accurate voters’ lists are central to a credible democratic electoral process.

The Venice Commission’s Code of good practice in electoral matters and the Council of Europe’s standards do not recommend any amendments to fundamental elements of the electoral law within one year before the elections. Prior to this election, the Bulgarian National Assembly adopted on several occasions amendments to the Electoral Code. PACE has requested the Venice Commission to provide an opinion on these amendments.

On election day, the PACE delegation split in 6 teams and observed the vote in Sofia and its surroundings, as well as in the districts of Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, Montana, Vratza and Pernik. In the polling stations observed, the election day was assessed as generally calm.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission will continue to work alongside the authorities of Bulgaria in the field of elections with a view to continue progress. The delegation will present its final report during the first PACE part-session of 2017.

Members of the delegation :
Joseph O’REILLY, Ireland (EPP/CD), Head of the Delegation
Geneviève GOSSELIN-FLEURY, France (SOC)
Predrag SEKULIĆ, Montenegro (SOC)
Anne MULDER, Netherlands (ALDE)
Luis Alberto ORELLANA, Italy (ALDE)
Suat ÖNAL, Turkey (EC)
Ertuğrul KÜRKÇÜ, Turkey (UEL)
Frank SCHWABE, Germany, Co-Rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee (ex officio)