Asen Vasilev, the incumbent finance minister, may know everything about this country's coffers and how to spend the taxpayers' hard-earned cash, but he does not know how to proceed at the ballot box
The man, who went to his native Haskovo, in southern Bulgaria, to vote in the local elections was turned away by the election authority because he failed to live up to the basic requirement of having had an address in his constituency for at least six months. The Haskovo commission announced the address they had for Vasilev dated back to 2000 and was in the United States.
The controversial Bulgarian Election Code allows Bulgarian citizens living abroad to cast their ballots in general elections regardless of their place of abode. In practice this means Bulgarians who have been in Chicago, London or Madrid for 25 years and have little knowledge of this country's day-to-day affairs and problems have equal voting rights with the people in Vratsa, Varna and Kyustendil, who have to struggle through the labyrinthine Bulgarian bureaucracy every day.
However, in local elections – in keeping with EU statutes – EU citizens who have lived in this country for over six months have voting rights on a par with Bulgarians (provided they have had a registered address here).
Asen Vasilev didn't, according to the Haskovo elections watchdog.
Obviously, the finance minister protested. He pointed out he had been elected as an MP in Haskovo. According to him, for the past six months the Haskovo elections authority had failed to establish that their local MP and finance minister had in actual fact lived in Bulgarian territory. A clear indication of the total mess this country's civil service is in, according to Vasilev.
Anyone who has had any dealing with the civil service locally or nationally can vouch for Asen Vasilev's perception. All state and local registers – from the real estate plans to the family relations and death books are full of mistakes, and, sadly, this is a fact of life that citizens, rather than the responsible agencies of the state, have the burden to prove and rectify.
However, following Asen Vasilev's failure to vote, an aftertaste remained in the mouths of many Bulgarians. If the finance minister does not know such a simple thing as to how to cast his ballot, how can we count on him to know what to do with our country's finances?