Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev said on May 20 2016 that he would not stand for re-election in the country’s autumn elections.
His reasons were personal, he said. Plevneliev said that his decision did not mean that he would be leaving politics, but he would not be founding a new party nor joining an existing one.
Plevneliev was elected at the second round of presidential elections at the end of 2011 on the ticket of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party. Plevneliev, whom Borissov recruited from the private sector to serve as regional development and public works minister in Borissov’s first Cabinet, took office as head of state in January 2012.
In recent months, Borissov and senior members of GERB had declined to say whether Plevneliev would be the party’s candidate in the presidential elections, expected in late October or early November 2016. Bulgaria’s constitution has a two-term limit for the President.
Plevneliev’s May 20 announcement came much earlier than the earlier June 30 deadline he had stated for declaring whether he would be a candidate.
His announcement came after minority opposition right-wing party the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria appealed for pro-European, centre-right unity behind a Plevneliev candidacy for a second term as President.
Recently, Plevneliev has been at the centre of controversy over the National Assembly’s approval of an election law that would effectively cut back the opportunities of Bulgarians abroad to vote in elections.
The amendments to the rules on voting abroad were tabled by the nationalist Patriotic Front, a minority partner in the ruling coalition, and were targeted against the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which has a track record of getting votes in Turkey.
Plevneliev imposed a veto on the amendments, citing concerns that they were unconstitutional, but the ruling parties bowed to a Patriotic Front demand to overturn his veto. The Patriotic Front had accused Plevneliev of imposing the veto in what they called an attempt to widen his possible electoral base for a second term.
Making the announcement, which was broadcast live at noon on radio and television, Plevneliev said: “Do not expect me to found a new political party or participate in any of them. Once a President, always a President,” Plevneliev said. He said that he would complete his term with dedication.
(Two of Bulgaria’s former presidents re-entered politics; Petar Stoyanov became for a time leader of the centre-right Union of Democratic Forces, and Georgi Purvanov, a former leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, leads socialist breakaway ABC after failing in a bid to get back the leadership of the BSP after he left office as head of state.)
Plevneliev said that he had informed PM and GERB leader Borissov of his decision.
Plevneliev called on political parties to abandon pettiness ahead of the presidential elections in the autumn and to support judicial reform. He called for creativity and work, and not demagoguery and speculation in Bulgarian politics.
“I want everyone to accept responsibility. In politics there should be moral principles,” Plevneliev said.
He said that in this world, it was not important what you take, but what you give. The people who were genuinely rich were those who gave something to the world.
That was why he had entered politics, he said, to give, to work for the nation and the state. Referring to his private sector career, Plevneliev said that as a manager, he had created jobs for thousands of people, built houses and buildings.
Plevenliev said that in 2009, he had decided it was time to work for the state, time to give.
He had promised, not to someone else but to himself, that he would cling to the chair and the power of the Presidency but would act according to principle and his conscience.
“I made that promise not to someone else, but to myself, because it is easy to lie to others, it is difficult to lie to yourself,” he said.