The 1990 Bulgarian Elections: A Pre-Election Assessment, May 1990
The electoral process seems both workable and reasonable. There is growing confidence it will produce free and fair elections especially with the agreements arrived at by the multi-party roundtable and sufficient international attention.
The form of government with half the constituent assembly elected by single member majority districts and one-half elected on the basis of proportional representation from 28 constituencies offers a balanced approach to a new government. The system provides opportunities to elect a majority party government capable of governing. At the same time, it provides some representation for minorities through proportional representation.
A significant active opposition has emerged in Sofia and seems to be emerging even in the more rural provinces. But we understand from all the parties that there is still a climate of fear of the existing regime especially in smaller rural communities and some intimidation is feared.
The Electoral Commission with representation from various parties and factions seems to be resolving differences among the participants. Nevertheless, the legacy of fear is strong and still evident especially among opponents of the government. Events to date indicate progress is being made almost daily towards insuring equitable opportunities to the satisfaction of all parties.
The ballot mechanism, built on former procedures, appears to be somewhat cumbersome in its operation. The manual tally dictated for proportional representations regional commissions outside Sofia may result in an unnecessarily slow determination of seat distribution. The system also demands an unnecessarily large volume of paper ballots that must be printed in a nation where paper is in critical short supply.
Although our focus of attention was primarily directed toward the Central Election Commission, we observed that the political parties operate in dramatically different ways with the opposition lacking in campaign supplies readily available to the party in government, opposition parties, however, are successful in taking their message to the public through many means of communication including television, radio, newspapers, and posters.
We have identified the ballot paper shortage as the most critical need. There is no indication of how the CEC planned to meet the needs should our mission be unsuccessful. The CEC also needs computer paper for printing local lists of voters. The commission is satisfied with progress in training election and poll workers. It was also satisfied with available computer resources. Other than paper, no other needs were cited by the CEC.
The commission was pleased photo 10 equipment and transfer cases might be made available.
The paper situation should be monitored very carefully and if the ballot paper is in short supply, distribution and availability of various party ballots could be critical. If the situation is truly critical, perhaps a recommendation could be made for an amended ballot style in single mandate districts.