Bulgarian preference-voting surprises

For its election of MEPs last month, Bulgaria switched to a system that allowed for preference voting. The Sofia Globe reports that the system produced surprises for a couple of parties.

According to a document I have from the European Parliament* for the 2014 elections, Bulgaria’s system permits one candidate preference, and if a candidate obtains 15% of the list’s valid votes, that candidate moves to the top of the list. In the Globe article, it is noted that the Bulgarian Socialist Party leader was bumped by “a hitherto obscure candidate” originally ranked 15th on the list. Something similar happened to the Reformist Bloc, which is an alliance of parties and the one MEP they will send is from a small partner in the alliance.

* Wilhem Lehman, The European elections: EU legislation, national provisions, and civic participation. Policy Department C – Citizens’ RIghts and Constitutional Affairs. 2014.

One thought on “Bulgarian preference-voting surprises

  1. For such a high threshold, that is rather surprising. ‘hitherto obscure’ – to whom?

    I think to some extent this shows how a quota-based (or perhaps ‘regressive’) preference-vote threshold has an advantage over a ‘proportional’ one. With regressive, I mean that there is a set number of votes, as in the Netherlands, with 1/4 of a quota; a proportional threshold would be as here with Bulgaria or as in Sweden with 8% of the party’s votes. A regressive threshold affects larger parties more than it does smaller parties, so that smaller parties can more easily send their top candidates, while the bigger ones will send their top candidates plus (potentially) a few candidates elected on personal preference votes. It would be interesting to see what the effect of the ‘proportional’ threshold is for the Reformist alliance, seeing as they will now be sending a rather different person to Brussels than they intended to or thought they would.

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