Bulgaria Makes Voting Mandatory

Bulgaria introduced mandatory voting on Thursday, with the government hoping to boost low election turnout and battle rampant vote-buying in one of the European Union's most corrupt countries.

Under the new measures approved by parliament, those failing to cast ballots will be deleted from voting registers and will need to register again if they want to take part in subsequent elections.

But a separate amendment imposing fines and suspensions to social security payments appeared unlikely to be approved after failing to gather enough support among lawmakers.

At the last general election in 2014, 48.4 percent of voters cast ballots, the lowest turnout in the quarter-century since the end of Communism in the south-eastern European country.

Experts say that a big factor is popular disenchantment with what is seen as a corrupt and out-of-touch political elite that has failed to lift living standards.

Gallup analyst Andrey Raychev told public BNT television that the lack of fines for not voting was a "stupid compromise".

Few countries in Europe around the world have compulsory voting. Notable exceptions include Australia and Argentina.

The changes in Bulgaria will come into force for presidential elections in October.

Source: Agence France Presse

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