July 14, 2015 Print

Bulgarian Libertarian Society Executive Board members explain their #VoteWithoutYoke campaign in the media.

Freedom of conscience is a crucial form of liberty in any society, so the freedom to choose political leaders must always be accompanied by the freedom to abstain from voting. Bulgarians are preparing to vote in a referendum this October that will determine whether the country’s electoral system is overhauled, and Atlas Network partner the Bulgarian Libertarian Society (BLS) has taken up a campaign against a proposal for compulsory voting, arguing that it would be an affront to individual liberty and would only introduce new problems to the already less than optimal electoral rules in the country.

“Compulsory voting doesn’t make government authority more legitimate,” said BLS Chairman Stoyan Panchev. “If we are all forced go to the theatre and watch a play, can we say that it was a box office success because there was such a huge audience?”

Since the start of the campaign in the second half of June, members and friends of the BLS have been sending pictures with the hashtag #VoteWithoutYoke (#ВотБезХомот) slogan accompanied by their own personal reasons for opposing compulsory voting. Op-eds by Panchev and BLS Executive Board Member Arkadi Sharkov were published in Bulgaria’s largest daily newspaper, Trud, and one of the nation’s leading online publications, OFFNews, respectively.

The campaign has made a splash in other media outlets, as well, including television appearances on Nova TV, Channel 3, Bulgaria On Air, and Eurocom, as well as a conversation on the Saturday program of the Bulgarian National Radio. A recent Gallup poll shows that half of Bulgarians are in favor of compulsory voting, so the campaign still has a long way to go.

View photos of activists using the #ВотБезХомот hashtag.

View more photos of activists using the #ВотБезХомот hashtag.

Visit the Bulgarian Libertarian Society’s website.