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Bulgarian tennis star leads the campaign for the introduction of electronic voting

25 September 2015 / 19:09:50  GRReporter
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By the way, one of the objectives of the opponents of electronic voting is for the referendum to pass unnoticed, being scheduled with the local elections in which voter turnout is often low. Moreover, Bulgarians abroad have almost no information as these are local elections and because they cannot vote in them, the referendum remains totally unnoticed. And if we had not started to act on social networks, many people would never have understood anything. It strikes me just how they want the referendum to pass without anyone being aware of it.

It is also important that the people in Bulgaria be aware that the local elections and the referendum are two different things. They may not vote in the local elections because they do not like the candidates for mayor or councillors for example but they can vote separately in the referendum. They are not related which many people do not know and because they have decided not to vote in the local elections, they will miss the referendum too. I think it is very important to know this.

What will the messages of the campaign that you represent be? What is its goal and what are its target groups?

The main message for me is to unite, to be together. Only together can we fight against the status quo. This means including all Bulgarians who are living abroad.

The target groups in Bulgaria are young people, people with disabilities, people who want to change the status quo. Let those who want this recognize themselves.

You are living in a country with a great tradition in the organization of referendums and in direct democracy in general. What is the most valuable aspect of the Swiss experience, which can be imported in Bulgaria?

The most valuable for me is that the government consults citizens. It seeks public opinion. This is what referendums are for. There are such several times a year and the Swiss people decide how they want to live.

The opponents of electronic voting in Bulgaria are warning that elections will be held through referendums, of a system break-through... There is no need to associate the first electronic voting with elections. It can be held as a consultation to allow citizens to express their views on an issue.

In Switzerland, the government consults citizens and in Bulgaria, it does what suits the politicians at the highest level, in order to keep the status quo. We see what is happening with the judicial reform, how difficult it is to push it through. This is a fierce struggle because they fear that their absolute control will be disturbed.

In Bulgaria, not only is there no tradition to hold referendums, but there are people who vote in elections and consider the participation in referendums meaningless. How would you motivate them to vote now and why is it important to vote in referendums in general?

Because those who do not want to vote in referendums want to tell us, "You understand nothing, know nothing and you cannot decide."

No, on the contrary, citizens can decide. And we see that what has happened in Bulgaria over the past two years has happened under civil pressure. Any ways of breaking the status quo and the fight against corruption are only happening because citizens have raised their heads. The same applies to the referendum. Citizens have the right to express what they want and what they do not want. During all these years, the status quo aimed at making people lose their faith. This is its strongest weapon. And it is very easy to say that it makes no sense to vote, as things have been pre-arranged anyway. But we cannot wait for someone else from somewhere else to help us. We ourselves have to do it, the citizens of Bulgaria. Nobody will bring us a ready-made solution, because the status quo does not want it, only our civic opposition, our civilian power - to be together for radical changes, will do so.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask you a question which is off the topic but which is concerning society right now. It regards Grigor Dimitrov, as many have spoken out against him, including prominent sportsmen, in connection with his non-participation in the match between Bulgaria and Hungary for the Davis Cup. What is your opinion on this issue?

Yesterday I posted a status on this issue on my Facebook profile, just two sentences, "Stop, people. Will you hate Grigor now?"

We have no right to judge without knowing what life a tennis player has. I understand that people are disappointed but on the other hand, Grigor had a very tough year. We plan competitions and preparations a year ahead. Obviously, this would have disturbed his overall programme, in view of the search for a new coach and of the difficult year that he had in general. There was a lot of tension, he had to defend many results from last year and he has to perfectly prepare himself for next year.

These are common dilemmas for us. Let me just say that things for him are this way this year. Not to mention how many times Roger Federer had to refuse to play for Switzerland because tennis players have priorities. Their personal careers are more important, because Grigor represents Bulgaria worldwide anyway, and Roger, Switzerland. Currently Grigor is the most famous Bulgarian. Who are we to say that he has not acted morally and has not thought of Bulgaria? And to say it straight, I hate criticism from people who talk about morality and live in one of the most immoral countries in Europe. How can we agree to be governed by people like Peevski and say that Grigor is immoral. There is a huge gap here.

Tags: PoliticsEnterprising committee in support of electronic votingManuela MaleevaReferendum
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