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Election observation

Fundamental freedoms generally respected in competitive Bulgarian elections, but process marked by voter fatigue

Bulgaria’s 2 October early parliamentary elections were competitive and fundamental freedoms were generally respected, although allegations of vote-buying and pressure on voters negatively affected parts of the process, international observers said in a statement today. Despite a late start to the preparations and the limited technical and administrative capacity of the election administration, the elections were organized adequately, the statement says.

Contestants were able to campaign freely in elections that took place amid voter fatigue from the holding of three early parliamentary elections in less than two years. The campaign was competitive, with a range of contestants representing different views. It was often negative in tone, however, and marked by mutual accusations among the parties of corruption or wrongdoing.

“It appears that political compromise is needed to ensure long-term stability in Bulgaria,” said Thorhildur Sunna Aevarsdottir, Alternate Head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). “After the low turnout we saw yesterday, it is clearly now the responsibility of the newly elected parliamentarians to do their utmost to regain the electorate’s trust.”


In the spotlight

"Elections in times of crisis" – major conference foreseen in May 2023

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Swiss Parliament are to jointly organise a parliamentary conference on “Elections in times of crisis: challenges and opportunities” on 9 and 10 May 2023 at the Assembly Hall of the Swiss Parliament in Bern.

The two-day conference, which also marks the 60th anniversary of Switzerland’s accession to the Council of Europe, will bring together some 150 key national and international bodies dealing with elections, as well as parliamentarians, to discuss the impact on elections of major crises such as the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other armed conflicts, new AI and cyber risks, ecological catastrophe, or civil unrest.

The event will provide first-hand experiences and define recommendations on strengthening the resilience of democratic institutions to emergencies and their ability to deliver in uncertain times.

Registration – by invitation only – will open in February 2023.

For additional information or in order to request an invitation, please contact the PACE Election Observation and Interparliamentary Co-operation Division: [email protected] or +33 6 07 06 77 73.


Did you know?

The Assembly's election observation missions are conducted in accordance with the ‘Guidelines for the observation of elections by the Parliamentary Assembly'.

In Resolution 1264 (2001), the Assembly invited the European Commission for Democracy through Law, which is often referred to as the Venice Commission, to draw up a Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters.

In July 2012, the Code of Good Practice's 10th anniversary was celebrated.

Also in 2012, the Assembly adopted Resolution 1897 (2012) on "Ensuring greater democracy in elections", which noted "considerable improvements (…) in most member states of the Council of Europe", but also underlined "irregularities which show that the holding of ‘free and fair' elections remains a major challenge to be addressed".