Borislav Tsekov: Election code bill does not make essential changes5 November 2010 | 21:08 | FOCUS News Agency
FOCUS: Mr. Tsekov, you have been involved in the efforts for a reform in the electoral system for a long time. What is your opinion on the draft Election Code recently submitted in the parliament?
Borislav Tsekov: Unfortunately, despite the long dragging out, the draft is a disappointment. The method and procedures of holding elections do not improve essentially. Neither are voters given more power at the expense of the parties’ leaderships. The draft does not make an electoral reform, but re-creates all faults of the legislation adopted so far with some non-essential changes.
FOCUS: What do you think are the biggest problems?
Borislav Tsekov: The codification of the subject is not a job for everyone and cannot be made by a group of party experts and functionaries. A few years ago, together with a large group of MPs from all parties represented in the parliament, we tabled a draft, which was professionally written with the participation of many experts and civil organizations. Its first reading was adopted and then it was widely discussed. As a result many ideas for its improvement popped up. However, instead of taking the experience into consideration, develop it further and update it, you can see a typical layman’s approach is adopted by people who think the world begins with them. And the result is, of course, almost dismal, because the bill was drafted by a small group of experts and organizations which are closely linked to the ruling party.
Here are only three negative aspects. First, there will be practically no majority element in the elections. Did not they promise the opposite? The preferential threshold proposed, i.e. the people’s opportunity to rearrange a party’s list of candidates according to their own preferences, is unachievable and high – 20% for the national parliament and 10% for the European parliament elections. This actually makes the preferential voting pointless and the people will again vote for the parties’ catalogues, which were arranged by political leaders and not by the voters themselves. If a reform was to be pursued, the thresholds, which did not work up to now, should have been reduced to 5%-8%. As to the elections for municipal councilors, no change has been made – the parties arrange their lists of candidates and the voters have no voice in the matter. In addition, the people in the small settlements, which have population below 500 people, are deprived of their right to elect a mayor. Instead they have a mayor appointed by someone in power.
Second, there is no permanent professional electoral administration. What is more the registration for the elections becomes more complicated.
Third, there is no essential change in the rules for the financing of the election campaigns. The proposal to set up a public register of the donors is the only saving grace.
FOCUS: Do you think these faults could be corrected between the two readings?
Borislav Tsekov: I am skeptical. I had conversations with many MPs on the issue and I am not under the impression that there is aspiration for an overhaul of the electoral system. It is not a coincidence that only the MPs from the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria and Ataka support the draft. It seems it is political interests, not a real reform in citizens’ interests, that are at the bottom. Still, at its latest meeting with the National Assembly Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva the Institute of Modern Politics presented its remarks. I rely on her understanding as a jurist.
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