New SG Officials Elected, Two Candidates Disqualified Before the Race
The elections are over and AUBG Student Government now has a new President, Marina Georgieva, and Vice-President Karina Barambayeva. On Tuesday’s elections Georgieva won over Tetyana Lyashenko by seven votes (or 51.37 percent), while 197 AUBG students cast their vote for Barambayeva, the only candidate who qualified to run for the position of SG Vice-President.
Two of the candidates, Hristo Georgiev, a candidate for SG President, and Georgi Georgiev, running for SG Vice-President, had been disqualified on Monday, a day before the elections took place, because “they failed to follow the rules and deadlines of the campaign,” the Elections Committee announced via email the same day.
In order to challenge the Elections Committee’s decision to remove them from the race, the two disqualified candidates attended the SG debates on Monday, supported by dozens of other AUBG students.
The candidates and their supporters stormed the Andrey Delchev Auditorium in BAC, asking questions and making comments, few of which were out of the context of the debate’s goal.
“We are here to challenge that unfairness,” Hristo Georgiev said before the start of the debate session. “They disqualified us just because of one single poster,” he added.
The problem with the two disqualified candidates occurred after midnight on Sunday, Feb. 14, the deadline for the removal of all promoting materials.
According to SG Elections Committee, Hrtisto Georgiev and Georgi Georgiev were disqualified from the elections because they had not removed all promoting materials before the deadline, which is a direct breach of Art.2 of the rules of Conduct for Elections Candidates during elections.
The article states that “any candidate that breaches any of these [elections] rules…shall receive an official warning from the President of the SG… If the candidate does not comply with the official warning, s/he shall immediately be removed from the election process…”
Since SG has been recently operating without a President (former President Mario Grachenov resigned from his position in mid-December, 2015), it was the Elections Committee that sent warnings to the two candidates.
“A few of the candidates received friendly unofficial warning concerning the end of the campaign and the rules that they should be strictly following,” Asya Minkova, Chair of the Elections Committee, said.
Hristo Georgiev was told to remove his posters from the ABF Student Center and to delete his online posts. Georgi Georgiev, according to the Committee, was also warned to delete his Facebook posts.
In the unofficial warning, the Elections Committee communicated to Hristo Georgiev that he was given additional time to remove his promotional materials. He was to delete all his online posts by 2 a.m. on Feb. 15 (two hours after the deadline) and remove all his posters by 11 a.m. (11 hours after the deadline).
According to Georgi Georgiev, however, such an extension of the deadline had been communicated to him on the following day, a few minutes before it was over.
“The only official email that I have received was at 10:44 a.m. on Monday, which was stating that both of us must remove our posters and online publications,” Georgi Georgiev said.
He claimed also that the warning should have not been addressed to him, since “the only post that I had was in [the Facebook group] AUBG Class of 2009 and I had deleted it.”
Hristo Georgiev also refuted the Elections Committee’s argument that he had not removed his online posts on time.
“The posts had been deleted on time,” Hristo Georgiev said. “I think that whatever arguments I provide, the Elections Committee will refute them because they are biased,” he added.
The Elections Committee, on the other hand, argued that there exists concrete evidence (screenshots of the given posts), which prove that G. Georgiev and H. Georgiev had failed to remove their Facebook publications before the deadline.
“There is nothing personal behind all of this; there are rules that must be followed,” Minkova said.
Based on these proofs, the Elections Committee sent a final and official warning to both candidates on Monday, giving them time until 11 a.m. to comply with the rules.
After the deadline was over and the Elections Committee reassured that there were promoting materials that had not been removed (Hristo Georgiev’s poster in ABF Canteen and online posts concerning both candidates), the Committee sent an official email to the AUBG student community announcing the disqualification of the two candidates.
“If someone applying for the position of an executive is not responsible enough to know the rules, follow the rules and keep him/herself up to date, then he/she is not the right person for the position,” Minkova said.
The disqualification of the two candidates produced mixed reactions from students.
“I believe that the SG decision was a bit harsh because, after all, I think that they [the disqualified candidates] had very good support and that their chances of winning were high,” third-year student Hristina Mihaylova said.
“They [the disqualified candidates] were frustrated and tried to blame their own irresponsibility on someone else and how they did it – it was through their not quite meaningful questions towards the candidates running for presidency,” Bojan Mircheski, second-year AUBG student, said.
There were students, according to whom, this year’s SG elections reveal the existence of problems within the SG body itself.
“The student government has become a joke,” Iulia Mocanu, fourth-year student at AUBG said. “I’ve seen one of the girls who candidates for president with a poster ‘more party, lower tuition.’ It’s shameful.”
“SG is hypocritical because in order to do its job, it is picking on candidates,” a student who requested to stay anonymous, said. “I am a student representative in several committees and departments and as such my activities have to be checked by SG senators. Nobody so far has done anything.”
Former SG President, Mario Grachenov also commented on the Elections Committee’s decision to disqualify the two candidates.
“If the Elections Committee, which consists of decent and responsible people, have taken such decision, then they had reasons to do so and I think that we all should trust in their decision,” he said.