The second round of local elections has ended, and voter turnout has once again reached a record low. Most eligible voters stayed at home or chose to do something else. And that leaves their opinion out of the sample that legitimizes the political future.
A good example of this is Sofia.
Graphics: S. Gogova, Dir.bg
The mayor of the capital of Bulgaria will be elected with about 175,000 votes. Those entitled to participate in the elections are 1,056,354 people.
Those who trust the new mayor are only about 16%.
In Sofia, about 67% of the voters did not support either of the two candidates in the runoff. They either didn’t go to the polls, or they deliberately put out a “I support no one” ballot. This makes them the largest group of eligible voters.
Even more extreme is the example with metropolitan areas. Over 110,000 people live in Lyulin. However, 12,000 votes are enough to elect a regional mayor. The situation is similar in the Mladost region of over 110,000 people, where the mayor is elected with 16,000 votes. In both cases, over 85% of those eligible to vote did not support their future regional mayor.
The function of the regional mayor is not to be underestimated, because in the most general case it is he who issues building permits of new buildings – from IV to VI category according to ZUT. Among their other powers, regional administrations can also announce public procurement for repairs of infrastructure and municipal buildings.
A look at the countryside too.
Plovdiv is the second largest city in the country. It is home to 340,000 people, and the number of voters is 282,253. Kostadin Dimitrov became mayor with 37,041 votes. In the runoff, he takes 54.15% ahead of his rival, who is 10 points lower. Compared to the total number of Plovdiv citizens with the right to vote, those who voted for confidence in Dimitrov are only 13%.
In Varna 335,000 people live, and there are 281,610 voters. The winner of the second round, Blagomir Kotsev, got 10,000 more votes than Ivan Portnyh. Their difference is over 10%, and this points to one of the biggest victories of the PPDB coalition. However, Blagomir Kotsev became mayor with the will of only 16% of those entitled to vote.
In a municipality Haskovo Stanislav Dechev retains his mayoral post with a convincing result of 60 percent against 37% for the runner-up. But even in this case, Dechev cannot count on nearly 80% of those who have the right to vote in the municipality. They are 75,987 people, and 16,241 voted for him. In the same municipality, only 700 votes are enough to win a seat in the local parliament. The reason – the low turnout and the many invalid ballots when voting for representatives in the municipal council of the city.
Similar stories can be told about almost every municipality. The reason is that the average turnout for the entire country is not only 36.87%.
The result of voter passivity is negative. On first place low turnout benefits the bought vote and the machinations. Perhaps few know, but the elections would be legitimate even if only one voter voted.
Representative democracy works best with high turnout. This is how the majority of citizens receive at least the theoretical chance for political representation. Mass disapproval of the political class does not in any way prevent it from making decisions that will most likely displease the true majority of the electorate – the non-supporters.