An excellent analysis, Beagle and quite fair from my point of view, considering the obvious differences in our political views. Though I do have some quibles...
* I feel I need to make a distinction here. While I, among others, often joke about the corrupt electoral process in Bulgaria, actual vote rigging – as in stuffed ballot boxes, falsified reports, electoral ‘tourists’ voting multiple times etc. – is exceedingly rare. Even with vote buying, on a national scale fraud does not amount to more than 2-4% of the votes – enough to move 3-6 MPs from one party to another, but usually not enough to change the results. It’s probably only coincidence that for four parliaments in a row (from 2001 to 2013) a change of 3-6 MPs would have made a massive difference to the government composition. Anyhow, officials’ incompetence has certainly had more of an effect on electoral results than their malfeasance.
Vote fraud can however have effects in local elections, where the electorate is smaller. GERB in particular was particularly egregious in 2011 and to a lesser extent in 2015, where I suppose their coalition partner restrained them to an extent.
There are always the minorities, of course… but the newest breakaway from the DPS, led by the 2012-2015 DPS leader Mestan, threw their support behind Tsacheva, making it difficult for the DPS proper to endorse her for the second round – not that they will hesitate to do so if the deal is good, but for many reasons it’s unlikely.
Judging by the initial results, DPS has not been seriously weakened by Mestan's defection, so there is little hope there for GERB.
Side note: DPS support in the run-off is a fickle thing – in 2001 Parvanov got 400 000 votes from the predominantly Turkish/Roma DPS strongholds, which proved decisive in his upset win, in 2011, when the DPS had endorsed Kalfin, turnout in those regions was in the mid 20s in the second round and he got only around 100 000 votes from them – had the DPS gone all out for him, he would have won, but at that time the DPS wanted to keep the door open for future cooperation open to GERB
The claim that Parvanov won because of DPS is dubious, considering that as you pointed out Indzhova who DPS supported in the first round won only 140 thousand. In addition, DPS won only 340 thousand votes in the 2001 parliamentary elections and turnout was notably lower during the presidential election in the provinces with a large Turkish population. In my opinion, Parvanov might have lost if DPS had backed Stoyanov (though narrowly), but would have still won if they did not issue an endorsement.
As for 2011, DPS probably contributed as many as 350 thousand voters for Kalfin in 2011. I think it would be somewhat unlikely that they would have been able to supply another 260 thousand.
Side note: The BSP, alongside almost all other parties in the leftist/nationalist spectrum, are making a huge deal of the fact that the government has passed a program for the permanent settlement of up to 2000 refugees in depopulated small towns and villages. Apparently it is all a plan of a large conspiracy to replace the approximately 1.2 mil. people who have emigrated in the past 25 years with, and I quote, ‘Mujahideen with 4 wives and 20 children’. At the current rate, with 21 people having taken advantage of the program, by the year 14 000 or so we’ll all be replaced!
This assumes that they will remain 2000 (which is unlikely considering likely future immigration, plus chain immigration if they become legal residents). There is also the fact that there is no screening and that Germany would likely keep the best immigrants for themselves and out-load the rest to other EU countries.
And of course, there is the principle that we shouldn't be the dumping ground for people who were invited in the EU by another country.
are employing far-right rhetoric against the refugees, vote for extreme left candidates.
This seems unlikely, considering that BSP's supporters have never been the kind of people who would look kindly upon the emigration of Muslim Mid-Easterners that are so common in European left parties. You can find more of these among the supporters of the RB.
Road to the nomination: After being left standing at the altar, Parvanov felt he needed not only to run an ABV candidate against Radev, but to run the best possible candidate. The choice was clear: run himself! There was just one tiny problem - the constitutional ineligibility…
This was actually disputed, since the constitution states that the president may be re-
elected once. Since Parvanov is not running for re-election, it could be argued that he is eligible. Of course it's the Constitutional court who decides the correct interpretation and considering who appointed the current court, it's unlikely that they would support such an interpretation.
I think 'chinless wonder' might be the right expression to describe the public image Traykov has. He was given (somewhat against his will) the unenviable task of trying to unite the various factions of the RB behind his candidacy and also to peel off pro-Western GERB supporters who may be wavering in light of the Tsacheva candidacy and some... interesting recent observations by Boyko Borisov (for instance: "The Occidental countries must stop exporting democracy and apologize for the bombs and missiles they've dropped over Libya and Syria"). Obviously Traykov can't do that, but he'll have to get 200k votes, otherwise one more of the RB parties has promised to leave the government.
This might be a factor, but Tsacheva is a particularly unpleasant candidate for highly educated voters who are disproportionately represented in RB.
In an alt-reality, had Trifonov organized a political party and ran in 2005, which he was considering, it's possible that today we would have been in the 11th year of his rule, that Boyko Borisov would have been either Trifonov's lieutenant or his chief opposition, and Bulgaria would be as vigorous a democracy as, say, Armenia. Trifonov's populism, sham patriotism and general against-all attitude had made him into the most popular showman in Bulgaria and his popularity rating was in the 60's and 70's back then. In the succeeding years he's been steadily losing popularity - both because he had outlived his usefulness to the party-controlled journalists, who now sensed a threat and began attacking him, and because his shtick has gotten stale
I don't think that Trifonov for all his faults was as much as a Mafia man or would have gone as far in subverting democracy as Borisov. More than likely he would have gotten bored in fairly short order and probably not last a full term.
Question 2 for being blatantly unconstitutional, as the number of deputies is explicitly set in art. 63 and changing that number is the exclusive prerogative of the Grand National Assembly.
It says a lot (and nothing good) about the framers of the constitution that they considered the number of parliamentary deputies more important than the way they would be elected, considering that there is nothing about the later in the constitution.
See, the problem here is that voting in elections is kinda sorta compulsory already, following an amendment to the electoral code in the spring of 2016. If you're eligible, you're obliged to vote (and as per the last minute change of last week - vote in both rounds), otherwise... well, nothing will happen. But if you miss another election of the same type - in this case the 2021 Presidential election - you will be struck off the voter rolls for the 2026 Presidential elections! Unless, of course, you had a valid excuse for missing one or both of the elections (but good luck submitting the valid excuse - there are no guidelines or procedures) or simply applying in your municipality to have your voting rights restored.
It is also likely that it will be struck down by the Constitutional court, since the Constitution strictly defines who is barred from voting (prisoners and those judged mentally incompetent) and banning anyone else from voting is an obvious violation.
My first round vote for president is obviously Traykov. Even if he wasn't the only unabashedly pro EU/US candidate in the race, and even if he didn't support the judicial reform that I find vitally important, he'd still have my vote as a fellow bookish dweeb. Plus he's warning against state capture and he refers to the Donald as a 'post-truth politician', so he's reading the same books I am.
With all respect to your political positions, I find this statement somewhat strange, considering that both Tsacheva and Radev support Bulgaria's continued EU and NATO membership. And both GERB and BSP lead a staunchly pro-EU/US foreign policy when they're in power, regardless of their public rhetoric. Unless Traykov intends to move his office to the US embassy, I hardly see how he can significantly surpass them in this aspect.