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Future of Referendums in Bulgaria to be Decided in Court Case

Future of Referendums in Bulgaria to be Decided in Court Case


The Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria is to decide soon on the outcome of a local referendum announced invalid by the election authorities late last year.

82 per cent of the electors in the village of Cherni vrah, Bourgas region participated in the referendum but this turnout was officially declared insufficient for the reason that the acting national legislation requires referendum turnout to equal or surpass turnout of preceding local elections. Unfortunately the village has had a turnout of 85 per cent at the previous local elections.

Believing that the quorum requirement is absurd the villagers have contested the referendum outcome. “This cannot be – in a constitutional democracy, which Bulgaria claims to be, 82 per cent of the residents of a community are not allowed to make a decision on vital issues”, says Daniela Bozhinova, a Bulgarian direct democracy researcher and activist.

The absurdity of the legal requirement has been pointed out in the resolution of the first instance administrative court.What is more, the first instance resolution stated that the quorum requirement of the law is anti-constitutional.

If the Supreme Administrative Court confirms this resolution, it may open up the way to a cancellation of the quorum requirement - a grave legislative hurdle to direct decision-making in Bulgaria. Major improvements in the referendum law is something active Bulgarian citizens have been pressing and craving for since the downfall of totalitarian rule. Bulgaria has not had a single national referendums since 1971 and was the only candidate-country in the last two enlargements of the EU which did not put any issue of the EU accession to the popular vote.

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