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20 January 2022
NEWS
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

13 April 2021

The Election Law of Bulgaria limits the number of Bulgarian ballot boxes in non-European Union (EU) countries to 35 (That number was 139 before 2016). This is a discriminatory regulation.

Many citizens of Bulgaria of Turkish ethnic descent live in Turkey. Their number is estimated to be more than 350 thousand. Therefore, 35 ballot boxes for so many people dispersed around the country are not enough.

We believe that this regulation was specifically adopted to prevent the members of the ethnic Turkish community living in Turkey from voting. This was even openly expressed by some extremist politicians in the drafting process of law.

Citizens of Bulgaria living in Turkey should not have less democratic rights than those in EU countries.

As a result of the said rule, the number of votes used in Turkey went down from around 90 thousand in previous elections about 20 thousand.

At the 2017 elections, numerous voters were unable to vote and had to return to their homes as a result of impediments. Furthermore, the voters who were not registered online were required to write a petition in the Cyrillic alphabet on the date of voting in front of ballot boards. This obligation, which targeted solely the voters in Turkey, led to delays and long ques in front of ballot boxes. This was clearly a violation of the right vote.

The same obstacles and deterrence activities continued in the parliamentary elections of 04 April 2021. (Although the declaration of the Bulgarian Central Election Board dated 22.03.2021 and numbered 2278 was declared that it would be sufficient to submit the declaration filled in and signed in accordance with the identity information, the statements of the voters were torn and forced to fill in their own handwriting.

This kind of intervention by some people other than those caused the voting process to be suspended and slowed down).
Last but not least, political parties are allowed to campaign only in the Bulgarian language by the Election Code. Citizens of Bulgaria of Turkish origin who made up around %10 of the population are particularly affected by his constraint. These facts were also highlighted in reports of ODIHR/OSCE and Council of Europe.

We therefore ask you to use your influence on the Bulgarian government

-To lift the limitation of the ballot boxes in Turkey,

-To allow political work in the Turkish language.


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