The parliament approved at first reading amendments to the electoral code that opened the way for the introduction of mandatory voting in elections. Under the amendments, approved by 121 votes to 21, Bulgarians that do not go to the ballot boxes will be subject to a BGN 50 fine or will be deprived of their social benefits for three months. The government believes the introduction of mandatory voting will help curb electoral fraud and motivate more people to go to the polls. Turnout at the latest parliamentary elections was only 51%, the lowest in 25 years. Next general elections are due in 2018.
Other amendments discussed and voted by the parliament yesterday also include the creation of a multi-mandate constituency for voters abroad and the introduction of active registration before elections with the move aimed at helping clean up the electoral lists from the so-called “death souls”. The parliament rejected a proposal by ethnic minority party MRF to allow campaigning in other than Bulgarian language.