The Bulgarian voters in Romania are often middle class, of working age and want to see in Bulgaria the societal evolution that they see in Romania
On 2 October 2022, parliamentary elections were held in Bulgaria and abroad. In Romania, only one polling station operated – at the embassy in Bucharest. As NBR correspondent and editor of the Romanian section of Radio Bulgaria, Vladimir Mitev covered the election day in Bucharest and conducted a survey with some of the voters who agreed to briefly share their views on various public issues.
The interview with Vladimir Mitev below was broadcast on Radio Vidin’s 7pm news programme and was conducted by Iordanka Gherasimova. The title, subtitle and introductory text are taken from the Friendship Bridge blog.
Towards the end of Election Day, what can you say about its course?
It should be noted that there were two interesting case studies showing different sides of the organisation and rules of elections in Bulgaria at this moment. On the one hand, there was a case where a Lufthansa flight that was supposed to land in Sofia was diverted, landed in Bucharest because of the storm in Sofia and people voted in the embassy. There was even a Facebook status from a European law professor who was on that plane who said that Bulgaria actually has one of the easiest voting laws abroad. On the other hand, there was also an interesting case where a young couple travelled from Ruse to Bucharest to be able to vote because one of the people in the couple was not resident in Ruse and had not submitted the declaration required in such cases, and they travelled to Bucharest to be able to vote together. These are cases that perhaps the legislator should think about and draw conclusions from. On the other hand, my survey continued after lunch. Again, people had the impression that life seems quieter in Romania. There is a certain sense of clearer direction in the development of society. I asked people whether it is better to have a government at any cost or whether, if the balances in parliament do not allow it, it is better to have new elections. All the people I spoke to wanted to have a government, not to repeat these elections again and again.
What is the social status of the people you spoke to who expressed an opinion?
The people I spoke to are obviously educated. Some of them are professionals. For example, I spoke to a woman who is a PhD student in optoelectronics. I spoke to a veterinarian. They are Bulgarians living in Romania. I spoke to a person who has management experience and she told me that she has travelled and lived in different countries around the world, including Belgium and Japan. Some of the people I didn’t ask in detail, but I have the impression that they are educated people who want to develop in Bulgaria. They all seemed to feel that Romania is a little more advanced, or maybe even more advanced, and they wanted to use their voices to make sure that Bulgaria will also go in the direction that they may see Romania going already.
In terms of the organisation of the elections, the electoral process itself, what can you tell us?
In general, fewer people vote here. Usually around 200 people vote. This number will certainly be exceeded this time, when there will be no automatic voting. Voting here is normal. It’s just that at some points, when more people came, there was a queue, but not a very long one. I can’t say that there were organisational problems.
With paper ballots? Is that where they vote?
With paper ballots and voting is done here. Yes.
And there, at 8 o’clock, the ballot boxes close. What’s the average age of those who vote?
My impression is that they are working-age people, educated and with the confidence to want something more. That’s how people who vote here seem to me.
Are these permanent residents or working migrants?
From my questionnaire, I understand that there are people who work temporarily – for example, for 6-7 months. There are also people who are settled permanently. Some people had come more recently and did not yet have enough of their own impressions of Romania. There are also people who have been established for a longer period of time and who are really making a career in Romania.
But what is important is that there are also people who, under certain circumstances, would return to work in Bulgaria and live in our country…
Several people I spoke to, even without asking them, said that they remain connected with Bulgaria. Their relatives are there, their parents are there, their children study or know Bulgarian. In general, the connection is not as far as the distance between Romania, and especially between Bucharest and Bulgaria. And they care about Bulgaria, so to speak. They feel connected, and also at least one woman I spoke to said that she wants to go back at some point, and that when she returns, she wants to go back to a country that gives her self-confidence.
Photo: A Bulgarian voter before the election commission of the only voting section in Romania (source: Vladimir Mitev)
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