Bulgarian minority party DOST, the breakaway from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms led by former MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan, said on October 20 it was backing GERB candidate Tsetska Tsacheva in the country’s November presidential elections.
Mestan founded DOST – the Bulgarian abbreviation for its name “Democrats for Responsibility, Freedom and Tolerance” after being expelled from all MRF posts for taking the side of Turkey in Ankara’s dispute with Moscow in late 2015.
The MRF itself has not officially put up a candidate in Bulgaria’s presidential elections and has not endorsed anyone. (Update: Later on October 20, the MRF officially endorsed Plamen Oresharski).
Mestan told an October 20 news conference that the executive board of his party had decided to support Tsacheva, without this being requested.
A victory in Bulgaria’s presidential election by any of the leftist candidates would pose a risk to Bulgaria’s Euro-Atlantic orientation, Mestan said.
When he led the MRF, Mestan was an avowed public opponent of GERB and its leader Boiko Borissov.
Mestan said that the election represented the most serious challenge facing Bulgaria in the past 15 years.
“We had thought that the Euro-Atlantic path of Bulgaria enjoys consensus. But I think that if the presidential race is won by whoever of the leftist candidates, a serious risk to the Euro-Atlantic orientation of Bulgaria will appear,” Mestan said.
There are 21 candidates in the race to be Bulgaria’s next head of state. According to a succession of recent opinion polls, Tsacheva is in the lead by six to nine points ahead of her nearest rival, Bulgarian Socialist Party nominee Roumen Radev.
In the National Assembly, DOST has a mere handful of MPs, who remained loyal to Mestan after he was expelled from the MRF and its parliamentary group.