March 2. 2024. 2:55

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Bulgarian election to suffer with vote-buying despite high prices


The upcoming Bulgarian election in April is expected to have more vote-buying attempts even though it now costs €75 to buy one vote – a threefold increase compared to 2021- Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev said on Saturday.

Vote-buying has impacted Bulgaria for decades and mainly affects the country’s poorest communities. The corporate vote, which affects poorer regions with one large employer who can influence its employees, is also problematic.

Indeed, over 30% of Bulgarians vote in polling stations where there is a risk of controlled voting, a study by the investigative foundation Anti-Corruption Fund reads. So far, the police have launched 48 criminal investigations into vote-buying.

The increase in vote-buying attempts for this year is attributed to the return of paper ballot voting, which was abolished last year but brought back by the previous parliament.

On the corporate vote, Demerdzhiev said, “there is data” it “is also increasing,” with workers at some companies being pressured to vote for certain politicians.

While the Interior Ministry claimed it had already been able to link money flows to certain political parties, they were not mentioned. “There are signals of buying votes everywhere, they are constantly received (in the police),” said Demerdzhiev.

Bulgaria has not had a stable government in the past two years and Bulgarians are set to vote in their fifth general election since the spring of 2021 on 2 April.

Elections will most likely result in a coalition between We Continue the Change, Democratic Bulgaria, and GERB – the party of former prime minister Boyko Borissov.

While both parties claim to have a Euro-Atlantic orientation, the numerous corruption accusations levelled at Borissov’s party for its actions during its rule will likely be an obstacle to these parties forming a coalition.

In the previous elections, the Interior Ministry said most vote-buying was against GERB and the Turkish minority party DPS.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)