With the FEPS – ISI “Monitoring of the European elections 2014” the electoral campaign and its media coverage in Bulgaria was observed, so as a direct observation of the electoral day was implemented through a group of civil observers, registered in the Central electoral commission in 25 of 31 electoral sections in the country. During this process, ISI was in partnership with numerous other organizations, especially through the newly created platform of the Public council of the Central electoral commission. The project team increased its capacity to receive actual information from the responsible institutions and to take part in the exchange of information between the organizations registered as observers of the elections.
The European elections were also the first elections organized according to the new Electoral code, dating from the 5 March 2014, in the creation of which ISI was a direct participant. They were actually a test of it's adequacy to the political and the social reality in Bulgaria. And despites the actualized normative base, we observed plenty of deficiencies of the electoral legislation, that was underlined by the group of ISI experts and confirmed by the monitoring.
By tradition, the Monitoring followed 3 modules: electoral legislation, media monitoring and monitoring in the day of the elections. Accordingly, for each stage, a separated group of observers was created.
After the pre-term parliamentary elections in 2013, there were mass protests in the capital Sofia. The main requests in the protests concerned a new Electoral code. In response of citizens requirements, the National assembly invited civil organizations and movements, experts and citizens, in a common platform in order to discuss the existing problems in the electoral legislation. Later there have been created a Temporary commission for discussion and adopting a new electoral code of the 42-st National assembly, and a Commission for working with civil organizations and their belonging Public councils. At the end of January 2014, after all of session in the commissions and the councils, the deputies began the discussion of a new electoral code in a common session. ISI participated in this process with participants in each of the working groups and organs for consultations. The new electoral code was adopted in March 2014, and it became an object of special attention (with the whole process of it's creation) of ISI's equip. The analyze have been presented in the large public through a special press conference, sent to partnership organizations and institutions concerned, and finally – uploaded in ISI's website.
The purpose of the Media monitoring was to explore the media environment in Bulgaria in the context of the European elections. Except the traditional quantitative monitoring, that follows the equality between the different candidates, list’s leaders, political leaders and parties, this years ISI improved the Monitoring with two new activities. They both focused on the exploration and analyze of the upgrowing gap between the European institutions and the local realities, the upgrowing crisis of confidence, not only in national, but also in European context. Fewer people perceive voting as a personal priority which leads logically to decrease in voting activity. This tendency is fully applicable to the European elections in Bulgaria. This is why ISI focused in part in the observation of several significant local medias of high circulation, with the purpose to verify if the European theme exists and how it is being represented for the corresponding auditorium. The second new component of the media monitoring includes a parallel comparative analysis between the declared priorities and the platforms of the main political parties and their media coverage. The research evaluates how the main topics of the platforms or other official party documents receive a realistic media reflection during the month of the campaign. Once again, the final rapport was presented in a public event with media presence and distributed to the parties concerned.
On the base of success of the two passed monitoring in 2011 and 2013, ISI is trying to follow closely the process before and in the day of the elections. For the second year ISI is a registered observer to the Central electoral commission. All the violations of the electoral rules perceived were made public and the responsible institutions were signalized. For this purpose we used the existing broad net of civil observers but also we educated a big number of new civil observers in almost each electoral sections of the country. We organized 3 educative meetings with the coordinators and later they organized themselves meetings in order to educate the equips of observers they were leading. To make the educational process even more effective, we prepared a movie with a simulation game of the electoral day, that we played in the last years trainings. We prepared all the necessary presentational materials, including a short and practical Guide of the civil observer. In the electoral day, the 25-th May, the national coordinator of ISI and the team received and recorded all the signals about violations, coming from the coordinators of the different regions, summarized them and sent them to the institutions and the medias.
The results of the observation were presented in a concluding press conference. Another common meeting with the coordinators was held with the objective to discuss the results and plan the upcoming activities.