Bulgaria’ General Election Head into Final Stretch – April 4

Bulgaria's April 4 2021 parliamentary elections headed into the final stretch ahead of polls closing at 8pm, with problems with voting machines reported from various places, allegations of vote-buying, websites penalised for illegally publishing exit polls and indications on strong interest in voting abroad.

Early indications were that, amid the Covid-19 crisis, voter turnout would end up being slightly lower than at Bulgaria's previous parliamentary elections in 2017.

At its 6pm briefing, the Central Election Commission said that voter turnout by 5pm was 39.99 per cent. By that time in 2017, voter turnout was 42.74 per cent.

Among other effects of the Covid-19 crisis were that about 15 000 voters in Bulgaria who entered quarantine after April 1 were not allowed to go to polling stations.

Alleged incidents of vote-buying included a report that a precinct election official had been arrested in Slayanovo in the Pleven district following a number of complaints that the official was involved in vote-buying.

Media reports said that in Rousse, the price per vote was 30 leva (about 15 euro), in Stara Zagora 50 leva and in Devnya, the highest at 100 leva.

In a statement on April 4, the Prosecutor's Office said that a person, not otherwise identified in the statement, had been sentenced in fast-track proceedings to 11 months in prison, suspended for three years, along with a bar from holding elected office for two years.

The statement said that in the course of the election campaign, up to April 4, a total of 445 investigations and 33 pre-trial proceedings had been initiated.

Eleven people had been charged, of whom three had been remanded in custody.

On election day, two fast-track pre-trial proceedings had...

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