FUEN protests against language ban during election campaigns in Bulgaria

- Press releases

In a letter of support, FUEN President Loránt Vincze calls for abolishing the ban on the use of languages other than Bulgarian during election campaigns in Bulgaria. According to the law in Bulgaria, election campaigns shall be conducted in the Bulgarian language only. Many politicians in Bulgaria have been penalised for using other languages during election campaigns for national and European seats.

Loránt Vincze: “The access of citizens is essential to the democratic process. Bulgaria should enable all its citizens to use their mother tongue, as it is the most close and most efficient for the entire society.”

The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), the largest umbrella organisation of the autochthonous, national minorities in Europe, finds it totally unacceptable that citizens are withheld their rights to political participation in their mother tongue. The fact that in Bulgaria persons belonging to a national minority can be penalised for using their own mother tongue in their communities during election campaigns is contrary to the effective equality on the grounds of ethnic self-identity that is guaranteed by the Bulgarian Constitution. The prohibition has a chilling effect on the exercise of minority rights in general and violates their rights to freedom of expression.

According to the letter: “The ban on the use of languages other than Bulgarian in election campaigns is clearly in violation of the rights and values enshrined in both the European Union Treaties and the human rights treaties to which Bulgaria is bound. According to the European Court of Human Rights, ‘a regulatory framework consisting of a total prohibition on the use of unofficial languages coupled with criminal sanctions cannot be held to be compatible with the essential values of a democratic society, which include freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10’ .

Mr Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP, a Liberal Member of the European Parliament from Bulgaria, tabled a petition to the Petition Committee in the European Parliament addressing the violation of the electoral rights in Bulgaria through prohibition of the use of other languages except Bulgarian during election campaigns in Bulgaria.

FUEN recommends supporting this petition and underlines that national minorities shall have the possibility to promote their effective participation in the election process in Bulgaria.

More information:
Letter of Support by FUEN
Link to the petition

Key Topics

  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities


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