Weekend results, part 2

Concluding the results of the weekend’s elections (see part one here).

Bulgaria

Bulgaria appears to have returned to square one, with its fourth election in two years – previewed here – repeating much the same pattern as the first two. Unlike the third election (held last November), when a reformist party topped the poll, Sunday’s election saw the establishment centre-right party GERB back in first place with 25.3% of the vote (up 2.9%) and 67 of the 240 seats (up eight – official results here).

Seven parties won seats; six of them the same as last time (three establishment, two reformist and one far right), plus a new nationalist pro-Russian party, Bulgarian Rise, which just cleared the 4% threshold with 4.5% and 12 seats. The populist ITN, which had precipitated the election when it deserted the government back in June, dropped out, managing only 3.7% (down 5.7%).

There is no obvious majority coalition. Unlike last time, the three establishment parties – GERB, Socialists (centre-left) and DPS (centrist) – have a majority between them, but the chance of them working together is slim. Previously it was possible for the Socialists to provide a majority for the reformists; now that combination has only 39.4% of the vote (down 11.7%) and with the disappearance of ITN has just 98 seats (down 36).

The other change that has happened since last year, of course, is the invasion of Ukraine. Previously it was unthinkable that GERB and the largest reformist party, We Continue the Change (PP), could govern together. But with PP as the second-largest party (down 5.8% and 14 seats to 19.5% and 53 seats) that is now tempting: they are broadly in agreement on the Ukraine question, and times of crisis require broad alliances. Especially if the alternative is yet another election.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Finally to Bosnia & Herzegovina, whose complex and ethnically-fragmented elections were also held on Sunday. Results (available here, albeit in Serbo-Croat) appear to show some movement away from hard-line nationalism.

Two of the three members of the joint presidency will now be relative moderates: Croat incumbent Željko Komšić has been re-elected with 54.2% of the vote, and Social Democrat Denis Bećirović has comfortably won the contest for the Bosniak spot, beating nationalist Bakir Izetbegović by almost 100,000 votes, 57.2% to 37.6%.

The Serb representative, however, will again be a nationalist, with Željka Cvijanović winning with 52.7% against four opponents. She replaces nationalist strongman Milorad Dodik, who transferred to the presidency of the Serb region (Republika Srpska), but not very convincingly: Dodik managed only 48.4% of the vote, against 43.3% for the more moderate centre-right candidate, Jelena Trivić.

The national parliament will again be a confused mix of different ideologies and ethnicities, but its exact shape is unclear because the country’s most powerful official, the High Representative, changed the election rules after the polls had closed. The new rules, which have been discussed for several months, are supposed to improve the “stability and functionality” of the Croat-Bosniak federation, but observers from the European parliament complained that the change “undermines the democratic capacities” of the state.

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