Targovishte, Blagoevgrad, Pleven, Montana and Varna are the multi-mandate constituencies, which are leaders in terms of results in at-risk polling stations of the past parliamentary vote. This is according to the analysis of the Anti-Corruption Fund /ACF/, which was authored by political scientist Mario Rusinov and Dr. Nikola Tulechki from the „Data for Better“ association. The study examines what happened in 1,738 persistently at-risk polling stations identified by ACF experts after a statistical analysis of the results of all elections between 2013 and 2021. New sections at risk are also indicated.
What happened in the at-risk polling stations in April 2023?
Polling stations with sustainable risk behavior have seen an increase in turnout compared to the last election in October 2022: from 212,000 voters have increased to 218,000 now. However, the rise and these results confirm the trend of a sustained decline in activity in risk sections in the period from July 2021 to now compared to the 2017 and April 2021 votes.
„The results of these elections can be interpreted as a reduced interest of political players to use vote-buying mechanisms in the changing political environment and against the background of the upcoming local elections. The latter are key to ensuring clientele and stability for Parliament,“, Rusinov commented.
Another important finding is that turnout in at-risk polling stations is asymmetric. In those with high electoral volatility – sudden changes in voters’ preferences for one party or another – where it is more likely to be classic vote-buying, there was low turnout in these elections.
In polling stations with another type of risky vote, where the results of the winner are unusually higher compared to his results in the other sections in a given municipality, the activity in these elections is also maintained at an average or higher than the municipal level. This asymmetry can be explained by the action of different forms of controlled voting, where the availability of financial resources is not a leading factor.
Where are the at-risk votes in the country?
The most serious problem with controlled and bought votes in the parliamentary elections from April 2023 is observed in Multi-mandate constituency-Targovishte, where 8.01% of the risky votes in the country are concentrated, followed by Multi-mandate constituency-Blagoevgrad (7.75%), Multi-mandate constituency-Pleven (6.17%) ), Multi-mandate constituency -Montana (5.97%) and Multi-mandate constituency-Varna (5.67%).
Some regions, including Plovdiv, Pazardzhik and Vidin, which showed a noticeable spike in at-risk votes during the October 2022 elections, maintain or further increase the already elevated levels of activity.
Who did constituencies with sustainable risk behavior vote for in April 2023?
In April 2023, the MRF again got the most at-risk votes – 82,449 votes, or about 6,000 votes less than in October 2022. This is 37.85% of at-risk votes in the country.
GERB-UDF recorded an increase of over 5,000 votes in the at-risk sections compared to October 2022, receiving 54,000 votes or 24.83% of the at-risk votes.
Coalition „We Continue the Change“ – Democratic Bulgaria“ got 10.39% of the votes at risk or 22 635 votes. This result is comparable to the share of „Democratic Bulgaria“-Unity /“Yes Bulgaria“, DSB, „Green Movement“/ – 2.89% and „We Continue the Change“ – 9.3% – in the previous elections.
The BSP accounts for 18,269 of the votes cast at risk or 8.22% of all at-risk votes. This is an increase of about 1,200 votes from October 2022.
„Vazrazhdane“ political party got 4.02% or 13,217 votes at risk in the elections in April 2023, against the background of 9,128 votes in October 2022 /nearly 30% growth in the at-risk polling stations /. It should be noted that this is happening against the background of a 40% increase in the results of „Vazrazhdane“ in our country, and in this sense, the improvement of their results seems organic.
„Bulgarian Rise“ received 4,588 votes or 2.11% of the votes in polling stations with sustainable risk behavior.
„There is Such a People“ reported 3,964 votes in such sections in April 2023 or 1.82%, compared to 4,166 in October 2022.
At-risk vote in preferences
In 167 polling stations, an unusually large concentration of preferences is observed – more than 85% of all votes cast for a given political force are directed as a preferential vote to a specific candidate. A total of 14,991 preferences are identified under this risky vote indicator.
Once again, the leader in this indicator is the Municipality of Simitli. Deviations are observed in the municipalities of Yakoruda and the municipalities of Rakovski and Lyubimets.