Bulgaria’s Center-Right Rulers Score Easy Win in Local Elections

Bulgaria’s Center-Right Rulers Score Easy Win in Local Elections

Borisov’s victory seems less categorical than four years ago but his party still remains mostly unchallenged.

Bulgaria’s ruling center-right party GERB scored a solid victory in the country’s local elections on Sunday casting aside any expectations of being challenged by a reinvigorated opposition.

In the first round of the local vote, GERB (an acronym standing for “Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria”) won the mayoral races in eight out of Bulgaria’s total of 27 largest cities and district capitals, and is in the second round race for another 17 of them.

The latter group includes Bulgaria’s capital Sofia and the Black Sea city of Varna where GERB’s victory in the second round seems predetermined.

The only other political force which won a district capital in the vote was the ethnic Turkish party DPS, which claimed once again the mayor seat in the southern city of Kardzhali.

In Sofia, a city of nearly 3 million residents, according to unofficial data, incumbent Mayor Yordanka Fandakova from GERB seeking a third term, won 37% of the votes in the first round.

Former ombudsman and Socialist MP Maya Manolova supported by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party remained second with 27%, and does not appear very likely to be able to make up the difference.

GERB has also won a plurality of the votes cast for city and town councilors throughout Bulgaria. Its win in the first round of the 2019 local elections for the time being appears a bit less categorical than back in 2015 when it ultimately won 129 of Bulgaria’s 265 municipalities, and 22 of the 27 district capitals, 10 of them in the first round.

“I thank God for supporting me for yet another time against these bad people because precisely the most-corrupt, the most thieving ones, are saying they are going to be the change – they are so funny. But I thank the people for its instinct and God for what he did for us,” Bulgaria’s Prime Minister and GERB party leader Boyko Borisov commented on the election results, referring to the opposition Socialists.

Borisov, a former fire-fighter and former bodyguard of Bulgaria’s ex-communist dictator Todor Zhivkov (in the 1990s, after Zhivkov’s deposing), is presently in his third term as Prime Minister although the first two terms (2009 – 2013; 2014 – 2016) ended prematurely.

His party GERB, technically a conservative rightist formation but with a strong populist profile, is in a ruling coalition with three nationalist and far-right formations.

Political commentators in Bulgaria have been questioning whether Borisov’s favorite, Sofia Mayor Fandakova might be defeated by the opposition candidate in the second round in a repeat from Hungary’s recent local elections where the candidate of long-time controversial Prime Minister Viktor Orban lost. Borisov himself has described the race in Sofia as far from decided.

“The only thing certain in this life is Orlandovtsi – sooner or later, every one of us will end up there,” the Prime Minister commented, referring to one of Sofia’s largest cemeteries when asked if Fanvakova’s reelection as Sofia Mayor was certain to materialize during the second round of Bulgaria’s local elections.

(Banner image: Boyko Borisov on Facebook)

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