President Purvanov Considers Proposing Referendum on Electoral System

President Purvanov Considers Proposing Referendum on Electoral System

At a meeting with MPs Maria Kapon and Nino Dimov and New Time party leader Emil Koshloukov on Monday, President Georgi Purvanov confirmed his position that if the parliamentary political forces do not accept the possibility to introduce a majority voting element in a mixed electoral system, he will submit to Parliament a proposal to hold a referendum on the matter, the President Press Secretariat said. The meeting discussed issues related to the reform of the political model, BTA reported.

On July 7 Purvanov will initiate a broad discussion within the Bulgarian Debates Forum concerning the reform of the Bulgarian political model and a change in the electoral system.

Majority voting will restore confidence in the political system, and this is beyond doubt, Koshloukov said. Dimov expressed his agreement with this viewpoint, stressing that the preservation of the proportional representation system will undermine the democratic system.

According to Kapon, a possible referendum could be held in October or November if the request is submitted to Parliament by the end of July and considered by the MPs before the end of the parliamentary season.

Roumen Petkov of the Executive Bureau of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party said the introduction of a majority voting system would hardly be a decisive step in improving the electoral process. He said the discussion on changes in the election law, initiated by the President, is extremely important. Many of the proposals which have been made are very good - for example, the rule of admission to elections on the basis of proper financing, he said. However, the majority voting element is very complicated and open to discussion, Petkov said.

"We will propose to all parliamentary and nonparliamentary political forces to sign a joint charter against the buying of votes," Petkov said. He recommended a prison sentence of between three and five years for buying of votes. Any party whose members have been proven to engage in vote-buying should be barred from elections, he said.

According to the Director of the Institute of History with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Georgi Markov, Bulgaria needs a transition period in the electoral system.

He believes it is impossible to "jump" at once from a proportional representation system into a majority voting system. The idea is to have a majority voting system in the conditions of a party system - something which has never happened in Bulgarian history, the scholar said. He believes that the best option is to adopt a mixed system.

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