Bulgaria rejects minority language use in elections

Bulgarian Socialist Party backs down from bill to allow minority languages during election campaigns

Photo by: www.kadiev.bg
Photo by: www.kadiev.bg

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) announced that they will withdraw their draft bill which allows political parties and candidates to use minority languages during election campaigns.

The draft for the bill to allow the usage of minority languages alongside a Bulgarians translation was previously proposed by BSP’s member of parliament Georgi Kadiev, but the bill was dropped after the draft was rejected by the 30 out of 31 members of the session, the BSP said in a statement on Tuesday.

After the parliamentary group session, Kadiev said that some of the members of parliament suggested his expulsion over his proposal.

The electoral law, which does not allow the use of any language other than Bulgarian, has been criticised by the centrist political party Movements for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), which was established by ethnic Turkish Bulgarians in 1990.

Since forming ethnic and religious parties are forbidden in Bulgaria, DPS positioned itself as a party which works for the “welfare of the minorities.”

DPS chairman Lyutfi Mestan, who was fined for using Turkish language during the 2014 election campaigns, said that Kadiev’s proposal was a big step toward a more democratic Bulgaria.

DPS won 36 of the 240 seats in the Bulgarian parliament and became the third biggest party in 2013 elections. In 2014, DPS also managed to elect four members to the European Parliament.

Although Bulgarian is the official language of Bulgaria, 9.6 percent of the population speaks Turkish, and 4.9 percent speaks Romani.

Romani people have particularly been facing problems like unemployment, economic hardship and discrimination in Bulgaria, and currently have no Romani representative in the Bulgarian Parliament.

The Council of Europe has accused the Bulgarian government of forcing Romani people to live in different districts from ethnic Bulgarians.

TRTWorld and agencies