Bulgarian court orders partial recount of ballots cast in electoral reform referendum

By bne IntelliNews December 15, 2016

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) has ordered a recount of votes cast at 44 polling stations in Bulgaria’s November 6 referendum on electoral reform. 

According to the official final results, the number of people who voted in the referendum fell just 12,027 votes short of 3,500,585 – the number of the voters in the last parliamentary elections. Passing that threshold is crucial as it would make the referendum results binding and create an obligation for the parliament to adopt respective legislation. Although impressive, the current turnout only obliges the assembly to examine the referendum questions.

The SAC launched the case based on an appeal against the official turnout count of the national referendum, which was held simultaneously with the first round of the presidential elections on November 6, Dnevnik daily reported on December 14. The appeal was submitted by Bulgarian showman Slavi Trifonov, whose TV show initiated the vote.

The SAC has authorised a mathematical and statistical expert examination of the lawsuit evidence and the protocols of the election commissions scanned on the website of the Central Election Commission. The examination must be completed within 10 days. Furthermore, the court has ordered recount of the ballots in 44 polling stations indicated by Trifonov.

The national referendum was initiated by the popular TV show “Slavi’s Show”. On November 6, the plebiscite asked only three of the six questions proposed, because on July 28 the Constitutional Court decided that the other three contradicted the constitution.

The three questions asked if people supported introducing a majority electoral system for the election of MPs, introducing mandatory voting for elections and referendums, and setting the annual state subsidies for political parties and coalitions at BGN1 (€0.51) per valid vote received at the last general elections. The support for all three proposals was strong, with the shares of positive answers being 71.95%, 61.89% and 72.16% respectively.

Aired every workday, “Slavi's Show” is an evening talk show hosted by Trifonov, a showman, actor, singer, and player of several musical instruments. The show is broadcast by the TV channel bTV of media and entertainment corporation Central European Media Enterprises (CME).

On December 14, the spokesperson of the Central Election Commission said that the body expects an apology from the show’s team after the recount is completed.

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