Bulgaria held an early parliamentary election on May 12, 2013, after nationwide protests triggered the resignation of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov last February 20. An overview of the proportional representation system used from 1991 to 2005 to choose members of the country's unicameral legislature - the National Assembly - is presented here; Bulgaria's party system will be reviewed in Part II of this presentation.
On Tuesday, April 14, 2009, the Bulgarian National Assembly voted to introduce a mixed electoral system, under which 31 of 240 National Assembly seats will be filled by majority voting in single-member constituencies, while the remaining 209 seats will be distributed by the Hare/Niemayer method of proportional representation among parties polling at least four percent of the vote and coalitions receiving at least eight percent of the vote.
President Georgi Purvanov subsequently vetoed the legislation, specifically objecting to the eight percent threshold introduced for coalitions. The National Assembly went on to override the presidential veto, but on Tuesday, May 12, 2009, the Constitutional Court struck down the electoral law amendment that introduced the higher threshold.
The election statistics presented in this space come from reports and data files published by the Central Election Commission and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Mathematics and Informatics.
The Parliament of the Republic of Bulgaria, the National Assembly, is composed of 240 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage for a four-year term of office. Members of Parliament represent not only their constituencies, but the entire nation.
Each one of Bulgaria's twenty-eight administrative regions is an electoral constituency, except for the city of Plovdiv, which is divided into two constituencies, and the capital city of Sofia, which is split into three constituencies, for a total of thirty-one constituencies. National Assembly seats are allocated among the constituencies in proportion to their populations.
Political parties and coalitions of parties present lists of candidates, but parties may only run in one single coalition in all constituencies. In addition, initiative committees may nominate independent candidates. Electors cast a ballot for a single list or an independent candidate. National Assembly seats are apportioned at the nationwide level according to the largest average method of proportional representation (PR), conceived by the Belgian mathematician Victor D'Hondt in 1899. However, in order to participate in the distribution of National Assembly seats, a party or coalition must obtain at least four percent of the nationwide vote.
National Assembly mandates won by a party or coalition at the nationwide level are then allocated among its constituency lists according to the D'Hondt rule. Nonetheless, under this procedure some constituencies may end up with either vacant or excess seats. If this is the case, all unused D'Hondt quotients for qualifying parties and coalitions in constituencies with vacant seats - that is, quotients that were not used to allocate constituency seats - are sorted in descending order. Seats are then assigned to the largest quotients, but every time a mandate is assigned to a party (or coalition) in such manner, that party has a seat deducted in a constituency where it has won mandates and there remain excess seats; specifically, the deducted seat comes from the constituency where the D'Hondt quotient used to allocate the mandate was lowest, relative to quotients for the same party in other constituencies with excess seats.
The previously described steps, which are designed to insure that seats are filled in all constituencies without changing the nationwide distribution of mandates, are repeated until there are no vacant constituency seats. Once all seats have been allocated in a constituency, its remaining unused D'Hondt quotients are disregarded for all qualifying parties and coalitions; unused D'Hondt quotients for a party or coalition are also disregarded for all constituencies with vacant mandates if it has no seats that can be deducted in constituencies with excess mandates. Moreover, no seats are deducted from a constituency once all its excess mandates have been subtracted.
Independent candidates who obtain at least as many votes as the constituency quota - the number of valid votes cast in the constituency divided by the number of constituency seats, rounded to the nearest whole number - are elected to the National Assembly. Mandates won by independent candidates are deducted from the number of seats to be allocated among parties and coalitions.
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Álvarez-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.