President Radev met with parliamentary parties as part of election consultations
On January 12, Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev held a meeting with the political parties represented in Parliament in consultations related to the organization and conduct of the upcoming parliamentary elections in the conditions of pandemic.
The talks started in the morning with representatives of the ruling party GERB. Afterwards, the President spoke with representatives of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), and then the MRF. The head of state also spoke with representatives of Volya and Ataka parties. The minority partner in the coalition government, the United Patriots, refused to take part in the consultations.
In the talks with GERB it was emphasized that everyone strives for fair and democratic elections, as well as to ensure the right to vote for all and the health of the people who will go to the ballot boxes on the election day. GERB stressed that they are also in favour of electing an honest, democratic new parliament.
It became clear that GERB is preparing changes to the Electoral Code to guarantee the right to vote to all people who will be in hospital or quarantined on election day. GERB does not accept, as they called them, "exotic ideas", such as postal voting.
Parliament Speaker Tsveta Karayancheva and President Rumen Radev exchanged sharp remarks about who is creating mistrust in the election process.
Only the increase of confidence in the elections will lead to a legitimately elected next legislative body to nominate a government, Tsveta Karayancheva, Speaker of the National Assembly, said.
"In the recent months, a statement has been made in the public domain that the forthcoming elections may be manipulated. Unfortunately, Mr. President, you are also talking in such terms," Karayancheva said.
Your former party member and part of GERB leadership, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said that such manipulations exist. I don't know what exactly he meant, but obviously he speaks from previous experience," Rumen Radev replied.
"I think what we need to focus on is health security. Any relatively exotic ideas to change the Electoral Code just before the election date, we as the largest parliamentary group in the 44th National Assembly, consider unacceptable," said Daniela Daritkova, Chair of GERB’s parliamentary group.
"Let's take into account these 2 million Bulgarians abroad. They face huge problems. It is not by chance that postal voting was proposed. You call these exotic ideas. I could say that your idea to write a Constitution in one day and to present it in the Bulgarian parliament is exotic," Radev said.
Afterwards, President Rumen Radev spoke with representatives from the opposition socialist paty BSP.
The meeting began by clarifying the relationship between the BSP and the President and Vice-President. Kornelia Ninova, BSP leader, asked for clarificstion on whether there is a war between Rumen Radev and the BSP.
"I want to dispel a suggestion that exists in the public domain about the relations between BSP and the President. We are not at war with the President and the institution and here, with my deputies in the party and in the BSP PG, I want to hear your opinion on this issue - is there a war between the President and BSP – so that we can close this topic and talk in essence about the problems of Bulgaria ", Ninova said.
"I do not want to distract anything, because we have never given a reason with Ms. Yotova, the Vice-President, that we have a special relationship or some discord with the BSP. On the contrary, wherever we go in the country with Ms. Yotova, we receive extremely warm welcome and have open dialogue and communication with all socialists We are supported, we were nominagted by the BSP, we have made a commitment to represent these people in their hopes for a fairer and more successful Bulgaria, and we have never, with Ms. Yotova, withdrew from this commitment," Radev said.
"I do not forget where I came from and, Ms. Ninova, I have no intention of giving up this affiliation," said Vice President Iliana Yotova.
BSP's proposals for changes to the election legislation include introduction of active registration to clear the voter lists of “dead souls”. They support video surveillance in the counting of ballots and the drawing up of voting protocols. They believe that postal voting can be introduced only after active registration.
A meeting with representatives of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) followed. During the conversation, MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi criticized the mixing of voting via machines and traditional paper ballots, as well as the manual counting of election results between the two types of votes. According to him, this is an additional precondition for errors in the protocols, and hence for even more mistrust in the elections.
The United Patriots (minority partner in the governing coalition) refused to take part in the consultations.
The meeting with representatives of Volya party was scandalous. It ended in less than 30 minutes after an exchange of sharp remarks between the President and Veselin Mareshki, Volya party leader. "Thank you for this invitation, but unfortunately it is very late. We consider it meaningless and pointless, as an expression of fear and incompetence for choosing the date, which is within your powers," said the leader of Volya.
For his part, the President counterattacked, accusing Mareshki of incompetence for signing a draft Constitution he had not read. Rumen Radev believes that the consultations he organizes were not late, but the parliamentary parties were late because they delayed the legislation on machine voting, the organisation of elections during a pandemic.
Ataka party were the last to meet with the President.
The consultations on the upcoming elections arrangements started a week ago. The first of the series of meetings was held with the Minister of Health Prof. Kostadin Angelov and with members of the national coronavirus task force. The President then spoke with health experts, scientists, the Central Elections Commission leadership and the Commission's public council, representatives of non-parliamentary political parties. Yesterday Rumen Radev held a video conference with representatives of the organizations of the Bulgarian communities abroad.