21 October 2011

TI Bulgaria Reports Alarming Rate of Potential Vote-Sellers - by novinite.com

Original Article Stable Link: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=133068



Diana Kovacheva, Executive Director of the Bulgarian branch of Transparency International has said that the current share of potential vote-sellers among Bulgarians threatens to skew election results amid a low turnout. Photo by BGNES

12% of Bulgarians would sell their vote according to a study of the local unit ofTransparency International presented Wednesday by Program Director Katya Hristova.

When asked if they would sell their vote, 12% of Bulgarians said they would use the opportunity, while 1% said that they could not decide.

Hristova said the 1% of undecideds were also likely to agree to participate in the election scam.

As much as 58.1% of the potential vote sellers said they would do it out of poverty, while the remaining portion of Bulgarians willing to accept the bargain said they were driven by the feeling of impunity and the unpreparedness of the local authorities to deal with the corrupt practice.

6.8% of the respondents said they would turn down an offer to sell their vote because the payment is too little.

"Word is that the vote buyers are ready to offer an average BGN 50 for bigger cities and BGN 30 for smaller ones. At the same time, people expect BGN 100-150 to sell their vote," Hristova explained.

Transparency International-Bulgaria's Program Director added that votes were purchased not just with money but with food products, heating materials for the winter, or pledges of laon forgiveness on the part of mayoral candidates.

Hristova informed about a new type of election fraud involving the fictitious inclusion of people in lists of donors to launder the money used in the election campaign.

A tip-off about such a scam was given from the western town of Botevgrad, Hristova added.

Over the past five years, 12% of the respondents have expressed willingness to sell their vote, while 5-6% have said they would do it in exchange for better payment.

In 2009, the share of Bulgarians ready to vote for money was 6%.

"Against a backdrop of low turnout, this group of people could change the course of elections and the election results", said Diana Kovacheva, Executive Director of the Bulgarian branch of the international NGO.

An estimated 7% of those polled said they had heard about or had been witnesses to vote-buying offers made to their friends.

7% of their friends said they would vote for a certain political party out of fear of losing their job.

10% of those polled said they had heard about or had been involved into a network seeking to recruit authorized representatives of political parties for teh October 23 vote.

The local unit of the international NGO said it had registered a pre-election transparency index of 3.34 among the presidential candidates, a figure below the critical minimum, according to Kovacheva.

The organization also stated it would visit all candidates who had sealed an Integrity Pact with it, thereby agreeing to provide access to their financial documents on two occasions.

The presidential runners who had signed such agreements were Meglena Kuneva,Rosen PlevnelievRumen HristovAtanas Semov, Maria Kapon and Krasimir KarakachanovTransparency International-Bulgaria revealed.

The NGO reported that around 60% of the district centers in Bulgaria had shown reluctance to take part in the campaign against election fraud.

The organization specified that 19.11% of the tip-offs received on its 080011224 toll-free hotline concerned corrupt practices at municipalities, while 19% involvedvote-buying.