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High Voter Turnout Expected in Bulgaria’s Parliamentary Elections

Sofia Weekly – Bulgaria is going to have a relatively high voter turnout in its Parliamentary Elections on Sunday, July 5, 2009.

Leading Bulgarian sociological agencies expect a voter turnout of between 50% and 60%. This means that about 3 500 000 – 3 700 000 of the 6 900 000 eligible voters are expected to cast their votes.

Sociologist Rumyana Bachvarova from the Market Links agency expects that GERB would get about 90 seats in the 240-seat Parliament, the BSP – about 55, the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) – about 35, the nationalist “Ataka” party – about 22, the right-wing Blue Coalition – about 20.

According to Bachvarova, as quoted by BTA, three other players – the coalition between the conservative RZS (“Order, Law, Justice”) and the nationalist VMRO, the coalition of LIDER of Bulgarian energy tycoon Kovachki and Novoto Vreme (“New Time”), and the ruling National Movement for Stability and Progress (NMSP) of former Tsar Saxe-Coburg – are all close to the 4% barrier for entering the Bulgarian Parliament.

In her words, it is very hard to say which of these three might get below 4% and be left out of the Parliament. Still, Bachvarova predicted that RZS-VMRO are likely to get 11 MP seats, and LIDER-Novoto Vreme – 10 MP seats while not ruling out the possibility that the Tsar’s party would bring a surprise.

Sociologist Miroslava Radeva from the MBMD agency has said that a Parliament with only five parties would make it very hard for GERB’s leader Borisov to form a rightist cabinet because GERB and the Blue Coalition would hardly get more than 120 MPs needed for a majority; thus, the presence of the any of the three lesser players might make Borisov’s job easier.

Sociologist Petar Zhivkov believes that the potential rightist opposition bloc of GERB and the Blue Coalition currently has an advantage before the other major bloc comprised of the ruling BSP and DPS. Zhivkov points out, however, that the BSP had started campaign efforts to “scatter” the votes of the major rightist parties among more minor players.

Sociologist Kolyo Kolev from the Mediana agency has said that the question about which party would get the most votes would find an answer on July 5 but the question about who would be in power after that would take longer. He has predicted a lengthy period of very hard negotiations with an unclear outcome.

Sociologist Kancho Stoychev from Gallup believes that the high voter turnout would make it more difficult for the three lesser players – RZS, LIDER, and NMSP – to make it to Parliament. Stoychev believes that the ethnic Turkish party DPS would do better than it did in the June 7 European Elections to a large extent because of the votes it would get from the Bulgarian expats in Turkey.

“I expect that the results of GERB and the Blue Coalition, on the one side, and the BSP and the DPS on the other, will be pretty even, and the forming of a cabinet will not be easy at all”, Stoychev has said.

31 of Bulgaria’s 240 MPs, i.e. one MP from each of the 31 electoral districts, are going to be elected through a majority representation system. Sociologists are not exactly unanimous as to what to expect there.

While Bachvarova believes that the proportional and majority votes would not differ, Kolev thinks that about 30% of the Bulgarian voters do not approve of the majority candidates of their own party which would lead them either to skip casting a majority vote, vote for the majority candidate of another party, or to skip voting altogether.

Radeva has cited data of MBMD showing that 70% of the Bulgarian voters were not aware of who was the majority candidate of their party of choice in their electoral district. She said GERB would get between 12 and 15 majority elected MPs out of the total of 31, the BSP was likely to get 8 or 9, and the DPS – around 6.

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