BULGARIAN VOTING FUN

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The people of Dolna Oryahovitsa in northern Bulgaria, which can imaginatively be translated as Lower Nutsville – a town not far from Gorna Oryahovitsa, which also can imaginatively be translated as Upper Nutsville – were given a difficult choice at last month's local elections. In the second round of voting they had to choose between Yordan Georgiev Boychev of GERB and Yordan Georgiev Baychev of DB. The people of Gorna Oryahovitsa chose Baychev.

The Central Elections Commission, the authority that sets the rules for elections and ensures they are being followed, imposed a fine on bTV, a major private television broadcaster, for airing a report on... the controversial renovation works in central Sofia. The report had a couple of bylines in it: "Good but unfinished" and "Error after error." The Central Elections Commission considered the report "electioneering." The renovations works took several years to complete under the supervision of GERB's Yordanka Fandakova, whom the citizens of Sofia elected for a fourth term in office as mayor of Sofia .

At the second round of the local elections in Varna it transpired that the number of cancelled ballots cast in the predominantly Gypsy neighbourhoods was in some cases at least eight times lower than the number of canceled ballots in the same areas in the first round. GERB's Ivan Portnih garnered a remarkable 92.3 percent of support in these areas and became mayor of Varna.

Perhaps Nesebar, a town on the Black Sea coast south of Sunny Beach and north of Burgas – and a UNESCO world heritage site because of its many Byzantine churches, tops the Bulgarian elections trivia list. Ahead of the October ballot, its mayor, Nikolay Dimitrov, was arrested on charges of ballots-buying. He did win the election and was sworn mayor for a fourth term. The charges against him, however, were not dropped, and Dimitrov had to take his oath... in handcuffs.

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