Friday saw political parties revealing their candidate lists for parliamentary elections on 4 April, as well as more Covid-19 news. On elections, Alpha Research sociology agency head Boryana Dimitrova told Bulgarian National Radio today that three likely scenarios exist for the outcome, depending on turnout. They go like this, in order of likelihood: 60 percent chance for up to 3 million voters (around 50 percent turnout rate). This would trigger a fractured parliament whereby 5-7 parties and coalitions would be represented. The second likeliest scenario (25 percent chance, according to Ms Dimitrova) is for a lower turnout of 2-2,4 million voters due to worsened pandemic. This would benefit larger parties with strong core electorates and hurt the smaller ones. And, lastly, she said she sees a 15 percent chance of a strong protest vote that would increase the results of the smaller, rising parties. As for the second topic of the day
Mass vaccinations announced by Prime Minister
After the health and government authorities came under fire for prioritizing certain social and employment groups in the third and fourth phase of the state's anti-Covid vaccination effort, (phases one and two having covered doctors, teachers, pharmacists and dentists, and then staff in care homes and kindergartens) Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that mass vaccinations can commence immediately. He told the National Crisis Committee that, alongside the upcoming fourth phase, health authorities across the country ought to open green corridors for everyone willing to take the jab to "create a bigger shield against the pandemic and then we won't need additional lockdowns and restrictions". This follows yesterday's news that only 10 percent of Bulgarians, according to pollsters, are willing to immediately get an immunization.
European Commission notifies Bulgaria for racism, xenophobia failings
The European Commission announced in its February infringement decisions that Sofia, alongside Brussels, Helsinki, Warsaw and Stockholm, was found to have failed translating EU rules on combating xenophobia and racism. The Commission found that Bulgaria "has failed to transpose correctly the criminalisation of specific forms of hate speech, which incite violence or hatred, namely the public condoning, denial or gross trivialisation of international crimes and the Holocaust." Under the European Commission's infringement procedures, Brussels can pursue legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. The decision comes a day after a Bulgarian court decided that the State Prosecution's case against the organisers of a neo-Nazi march in Sofia does not hold. On the same day, the ECHR ruled against Bulgarian courts for purposefully ignoring racist and anti-Semitic speech by a politician.
Elevator factory from the "Eight Dwarfs" investigation looted
On Friday, Iliya Zlatanov, owner of the Izamet elevator construction and repair factory that became well-known after an investigation carried out by the Anti-corruption Fund (ACF) watchdog, told the media that the factory had been looted. ACF's investigation discovered a network of high-level prosecutors, lawyers and notaries, led by ex-prosecutor Petyo "the Euro" Petrov, using their institutional connections to capture private businesses. The alleged criminal gang operated in the "Eight Dwarfs" restaurant in central Sofia, hence the name of the scandal. The State Prosecution and the police authorities have consistently refused to investigate the scheme, despite long-running public pressure.