Bulgarians Protest Reinstatement of Paper Election Ballots

Bulgarians Protest Reinstatement of Paper Election Ballots
Last updated Dec 03, 2022
Image credit: AP


  • On Thursday, hundreds of protesters hit the streets of Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, following Parliament's vote to bring back paper ballots at polling stations.[1]
  • Led by the Democratic Bulgaria alliance and the We Continue the Change (WCC) party, protesting Bulgarians demanded the rollback of the Election Code amendments approved last week – which they claim will result in the theft of future elections.[2]
  • According to the amendments, Bulgarians can vote by either a paper or machine ballot. However, voting will be solely by paper ballot in the 2023 municipal and mayoral elections.[1]
  • Urging Bulgarians to stand up for their rights, WCC leader and former prime minister Kiril Petkov claimed the reinstatement of paper ballots was an attempt by the “old establishment” to corrupt elections.[2]
  • A caretaker government with reduced powers currently governs Bulgaria — Europe’s poorest country — following October's fourth general election in less than two years. Although it was won by the ruling GERB party, which procured 24% of the vote, the parliament remains fragmented.[3]


Establishment-critical narrative

By bringing back paper ballots, the GERB-led Paper Coalition — which includes the Movement for Rights and Freedoms alliance and the Bulgarian Socialist Party — is preparing for a trilateral ruling majority. History has shown that elections are rigged with paper, and there's no doubt the coalition is rushing to re-introduce such ballots so that GERB can maintain its monopoly in local governments.

Pro-establishment narrative

The opposition’s demand to restrict voting entirely to machines is fundamentally flawed as it infringes on the freedom of choice. Allowing voters to decide between a voting machine or a paper ballot ensures a cleaner, more transparent, and fair electoral process, while unjustified speculation of fraud achieves the exact opposite.

Establishment split



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