An April 26 emergency meeting involving Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and representatives of parties in the country’s governing coalition has led to a backtrack on some of the more controversial changes to election law approved by Parliament. Negotiations and debate on revisions to the Electoral Code were continuing in the National Assembly in the afternoon, with the special sitting expected to be extended. The meeting involving Borissov and Roumyana Buchvarova, deputy prime minister in charge of coalition policy, went on for more than two hours on Tuesday morning. After the meeting, it emerged that some clauses in the Electoral Code, approved at second reading on April 21 and 22, would be changed. The fate of Parliament’s decision, taken in response to a proposal by governing coalition minority partner the nationalist Patriotic Front, that polling stations abroad may only be opened at diplomatic missions, remained unclear by mid-afternoon.
The limitation, seen as directed at opposition party the Movement for Rights and Freedoms that customarily gets significant numbers of votes from polling stations in Turkey, already has sparked protests from Bulgarians living in Western countries who see it as an unfair restriction of their practical ability to cast a ballot. Should the rule on polling stations being opened only at embassies and consulates stand, many Bulgarians abroad would have to travel long distances to vote.
It is not yet clear to what extent the differences over voting abroad have been resolved. The Reformist Bloc, a centre-right coalition minority partner, is pushing for the opening of at least an additional 50 polling stations in a country, in places other than embassy or consulate buildings.