>Electoral reform catching in SE Europe?


Plans to reform the electoral system along majoritarian (first-past-the-post) lines seem to be catching in South Eastern Europe – at least if you are incumbent President or an ex-communist Social Democrat whose reformist commitment was fairly recently acquired. Bulgaria’s head of state, President Georgi Purvanov is, it seems, basically both. So it comes as no surprise that – following the (as unyet unresolved) Romanian electoral reform imbroglio – he should be toying with electoral reform broadly in the direction of a move from PR to majoritarian electoral system. As in Romania centre-right parties (specifically the UDF, but also the newly ascendant GERB party and parliamentary defectors from the governing National Movement for Stability and Prosperity, whose have set up a New Democracy grouping) are also attracted by the idea, seemingly seeing its radicalism as an opportunity for some kind of broader clean break giving impetus for reform and an spur to centre-right party building, which is as problematic in Bulgaria as Romania, although I guess Serbs of liberal-right persuasion must look on in envy.

As my SSEES colleague Eric Gordy notes in a piece written after the first round of Serbia’s presidential elections “… the DSS [Serbian Democratic Party of just-about-re-elected incumbent Tadic] has not adopted a conservative profile but a contrarian one, and as a result there is no coherent conservative political force in the country but rather a motley collection of populist and ultra-right movements. The DS [Democratic Party] and the DSS are not liberal and conservative parties in the sense that these terms are understood in modern politics; rather, both are in the mould of the highly adaptable and utterly immovable ‘parties of power’ that characterized politics in the period between the two world wars throughout the region”. On the other hand, the situation I suspect is not that far removed enough for the Bulgarian or Romanian (would-be) centre-right to feel great satisfaction. If they do want a further does of interwar style clientelist transformismo with a dash of Putin thrown in, first-past-the-post would probably be just the ticket, however.

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