Bulgaria 2009

Bulgaria voted today to renew its 240 seat-unicameral legislature. The electoral system, however, was changed to botched MMP with 31 FPTP seats, which double up as provinces (except Sofia City, with 3 seats, and Plovdiv City with one seat). This awful FPTP method was introduced by the Socialists to boost their vote (and votes for major parties, though it obviously helps regionalized parties) The remaining seats are allocated through PR (Hare-Niemeyer method) at a national level with a 4% threshold for seats.

Bulgaria is extremely anti-incumbent. It has never re-elected an incumbent government, and this time seems no different. Here are, for starters, the 2005 results:

Coalition for Bulgaria (BSP) 31% winning 82 seats (+34)
National Movement Simeon II 19.9% winning 53 seats (-67)
Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms 12.8% winning 34 seats (+13)
Attack 8.1% winning 21 seats (+21)
United Democratic Forces 7.7% winning 20 seats (-31)
Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria 6.4% winning 17 seats (+17)
Bulgarian People’s Union 5.2% winning 13 seats (+13)

The Socialists under Sergey Stanishev (BSP) formed a coalition with the Turkish DPS and the liberal party led by former King (and Prime Minister) Simeon II Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Since then, however, you’ve had a new party emerge on the ruins of a collapsing Simeon II Movement (now known as NDSV): Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) led de facto by the former Mayor of Sofia, Boyko Borisov (formerly NDSV). GERB, as you may recall, won the 2007 European by-election and the 2009 Euros last month. Other new outfits include the Blue Coalition, formed between the very right-wing economy-destroying Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) and the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria; the Lider party, an industrialists’ personal machine; and the conservative Order, Lawfulness, Justice.

Bulgarian elections are never very clean, due to a huge vote buying market as well as the DPS’ various fraudulent methods at boosting its vote, including electoral tourism (shipping Turkish citizens to Bulgaria to vote DPS – that’s why it almost won the 2007 by-election – Bulgarian turnout was very low), voting intimidation, double voting and strategical moving of voters.

So far we only have exit polls and rumours, which give GERB winning a quasi-landslide with over 40% of the vote compared to 18% for the BSP.

GERB 41.8% winning 90-106 seats
BSP 17.1% winning 56-68 seats
DPS 11.6% winning 32-36 seats
Attack 8.8% winning 21 seats
Blue Coaltion 7.9%
Order, Lawfulness and Justice 4.4%
Lider 3.9%
NDSV 2.9%

The BSP’s introduction of FPTP has proved to be an epic fail for them:


This landslide-esque victory for GERB probably ensures that Borisov will become Prime Minister in a coalition including GERB, obviously, but also the Blue Coalition, which has already declared its intentions to support a Borisov government. Remains to be seen if GERB can break the curse set upon Bulgarian governments. Knowing them, probably not.

Posted on July 5, 2009, in Bulgaria. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It’s not “botched MMP,” as there was no attempt to make it compensatory. The change was a transparent effort by the unpopular Socialists to conserve their expected losses by having new districts in which “local notables” could run on their personal popularity (and also a way for corrupt businessmen to gain at least temporary immunity).

    The system is mixed-member majoritarian (or “parallel”).

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