Members of the Bulgarian community living in Armagh will be able to vote in their country’s Presidential election this weekend.
Working with the Association of Bulgarian Cultural and Education, the West Armagh Consortium will be facilitating the official polling station as its base at Cathedral Road.
A spokesperson said: “This will be the only official Bulgarian oolling station in the north and it is a sign of the significance of the Bulgarian community that the government has decided to place a polling station in the city. In Ireland as a whole there are another two polling stations, one based in the Bulgarian Embassy in Dublin and the other in Shannon.
“All Bulgarians who are in Ireland on Election Day are entitled to vote, even those not resident here.”
This election this coming Sunday, November 5, is to elect a Bulgarian President, as well as doubling up as a referendum, whereby Bulgarians are being asked to make changes to the electoral system and party political funding.
Twenty-one candidates are in the running including political party candidates, independents and pressure group candidates. Bulgarian Presidential elections operate on a two round system.
Also known as the second ballot, runoff voting or ballotage, this is used to elect a single winner, where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate.
But if no candidate receives the required number of votes – usually an absolute majority or 40–45% with a winning margin of 5–15% – then those candidates having less than a certain proportion of the votes, or all but the two candidates receiving the most votes, are eliminated, and a second round of voting is held.
For the first time Bulgarian voters will be able to vote for ‘NONE OF THE ABOVE’. If this is the case it is expected that the second round will take place the following week.
Speaking on the issue, MrsValentina Stafanova, of the Association Bulgarian Culture and Education, welcomed the decision to place an official polling booth in Armagh.
She said: “Bulgarians will be delighted to be able to participate in the Presidential elections. I am glad that Armagh has been chosen as a venue. There is a sizable Bulgarian community in Armagh and surrounding areas.
“I am confident that, given the geographical location of the polling station, Bulgarian nationals living in the border counties will also take this opportunity to cast their votes.
“I would like to thank the West Armagh Consortium who have been very helpful in getting this set up, as well as the Lord Mayor Garath Keating, who helped with the inevitable red tape.”