Transparency International – Bulgaria voices once again its strong concern about the apparent inability of the political parties, represented in the 42nd National Assembly, to reach a consensus on the adoption of new electoral process rules. Also worrisome are the serious violations of the principles of transparency and the attempted discussion and adoption of Election Code amendments in a piecemeal fashion and “on the go”, without offering a final draft of the discussed proposals.

Our assessment is that the selected approach compromises the initial idea for public discussion, aiming to reach a broad consensus on key issues. There is a real danger of not achieving substantial amendment of the current electoral legislation, thus failing to bring true change of the manner in which elections in Bulgaria were held in the past years.

Although the discussion of the discussions for elaboration of a new Election Code lasted 8 months, we find ourselves in a situation without clarity regarding fundamental rules under which the elections for Members of the European Parliament will be held.

Furthermore, the discussions in the National Assembly from the last few days indicate that the members of parliament are not capable of giving an adequate response to serious issues and address the problems in the electoral legislation in their entirety.

The fragmented approach for adoption of the electoral rules, without complete concept of the legislation and its philosophy, is unacceptable. It also shows that the concerns expressed in an open letter by Transparency International – Bulgaria in October 2013 are coming true. The time for adoption of new Election Code and creation of new electoral administration before the elections for European Parliament in May 2014 has run out.

Our position is that the electoral rules should be ready and clear for the citizens, candidates and institutions in a sufficiently long period of time (at least 6 months) before the date of the elections. This position is also shared by leading international organizations, and exists in the practice of the European Court of Human Rights.

We believe that the new Election Code should be implemented after the elections for Members of the European Parliament in May 2014.

Some of the adopted rules as part of the second deliberation of the legislation mark a retreat from previously reached broad consensus for solution of key problems of the electoral process – politically impartial and professional CEC, preferential voting with low threshold, fair media coverage of candidates’ campaigns.

We call on the parliamentary represented parties to overcome their narrow party interests by complying with the demands of the Bulgarian citizens, as well as with the recommendations of the Bulgarian and international civil organizations.