Local elections in Bulgaria -
23 October 2011
"There is a need to reinforce public confidence in electoral processes in Bulgaria"
"There is a need to reinforce public confidence in electoral processes in Bulgaria" stated Mihkel JUHKAMI, (Estonia, EPP/CD), Congress rapporteur on the local elections in Bulgaria held on 23 October 2011 presenting his report to the 22nd congress Session on 20 March 2012. If the report states that local elections in Bulgaria largely met European standards and were conducted in an overall calm and orderly manner, it also calls for further improvements notably regarding the administration of elections, the voting process, the vote count as well as the complaints and appeals procedures. " We encourage the Bulgarian authorities to address the issues raised in the report by developing in particular training programmes for members of the electoral commissions (on electoral procedures but also ethical behavior) as well as public awareness campaigns for voters prior to elections, in particular among vulnerable groups" Mr Juhkami added.
Video of the debate
Interview with Mihkel JUHKAMI
Local elections in Bulgaria: Congress praises solid legal framework but calls for improved integrity of the vote at grassroots level
''The local elections held in Bulgaria on 23 October were carried out - largely - in a calm and orderly manner and on the basis of a solid legal framework for democratic elections'', stated Head of Delegation and Congress Rapporteur, Mihkel JUHKAMI (Estonia) during a press conference this morning. ''The Congress delegation, in agreement with OSCE/ODIHR, believes that there is still room for improvement - for example, to allow minorities to use their mother tongue during the campaign or in respect of short deadlines for appeals of election commission decisions. Also, there was the administrative problem of the unbalanced composition of election commissions at all levels and the dominance of the ruling party in the leadership,'' he underlined. In addition, the Congress Rapporteur referred to information received about vote-buying, in particular among the vulnerable Roma population in small rural communities, and with regard to controlled voting. ''The Congress stands ready to assist the Bulgarian auhorities, in particular at local and regional level, to improve the integrity of elections at grassroots level''. He called also for a more equal access of local actors to the media. The members of the Congress delegation observed the vote in different regions and visited approximately 120 polling stations troughout the country.
Statement by the Rapporteur Mihkel JUHKAMI
Council of Europe Congress to observe local elections in Bulgaria
A delegation from the Congress observed the local elections in Bulgaria on 23 October 2011. On 21 and 22 October, the delegation held meetings in Sofia with representatives of the government, including representatives of the Ministry of Local and Regional Development and Public Works, the Central Election Commission as well as representatives of the Bulgarian delegation to the Congress and associations of local and regional authorities. Views were also exchanged with representatives of the OSCE-ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission. On 22 October six Congress delegations were deployed to several regions of the country to meet with candidates and observe the vote on Election Day.