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“Buying” Votes: All Too Logical


The 2007 local elections in Bulgaria will not be the last in which votes are bought, said former Sofia ombudsman Antoaneta Tconeva, who presented her report “Mayors on Lease” today. The report was prepared under a RiskMonitor project.

According to Antoaneta Tsoneva and her colleague Svetoslav Georgiev, the “buying” of votes is the logical result of five factors. The first factor is the belated formation of municipal property followed by privatization of huge resources. The second is pressure by the business community on municipalities, which have powers over these resources. The third is speculative use of media investigations as a manual of abuse. The fourth is the discrediting of political-party elites.

The fifth is the present legislation: it guarantees a certain and almost anonymous mandate of municipal councils, accompanied by the power to dictate the mayor’s decisions.

The report was discussed at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Sofia by Zhivko Georgiev, Vassil Garnizov, Petya Kabakchieva, Haralan Alexandrov, Ivan Chalukov and other participants in the round-table discussion.

According to Vassil Garnizov, one of the main prerequisites for the “buying” of votes is the large number of municipal councilors. He thinks that this “reduces the price” of entering local government. In response, Zhivko Georgiev noted that the business community has huge capital and placed emphasis on two other theses: the absence of adequate regulations on the financing of political parties, and the lack of resources for “reviving” them. Ivan Chalukov pointed out the responsibility of the media: whereas in the early 1990s the Bulgarian media promoted the image of the “honest private entrepreneur”, they later questioned the very possibility of the existence of “honest private entrepreneurs”. Chalukov declared that the transition period in Bulgaria had seen a sort of “teaching-and-learning process of transformation of local self-government”.

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