A day ahead of a proposed live television debate between GERB leader Boiko Borissov and Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova, it remained unclear whether the event would happen.
Borissov and Ninova have been wrangling for days, in statements to the media and on Facebook, about a possible television debate between them ahead of Bulgaria’s March 26 2017 early parliamentary elections.
Bulgaria’s three major television channels – public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television and commercial stations bTV and Nova Televizia – issued a statement on February 27 saying they were willing to host a Borissov-Ninova debate, proposing the “neutral territory” of the National Palace of Culture, NDK, in Sofia on March 1 between 7.30pm and 8.50pm.
Borissov said on the morning of February 28 that he had spoken on the telephone with Ninova and “she again refused all forms of debate that the three national television stations and that I and my team proposed”.
“Apparently Mrs Ninova has a problem presenting her team and holds that the debate should not take place,” Borissov said.
The GERB leader said that he had accepted that the first part of the debate should be between teams from his party and that of the BSP, and the second part a face-to-face debate between him and Ninova.
Borissov said that he and his team would be at NDK on Wednesday at the time proposed by the three television stations.
The BSP national council said in a media statement that it was unacceptable to the party to mix formats, “experts and leader together” because, the statement said, people deserved to hear directly from each leader their visions for the future of Bulgaria.
Agreement on this point between the BSP and GERB teams had not been reached and therefore the leaders’ debate could not proceed, the BSP said.
“Kornelia Ninova is ready and waiting – when GERB decides that they want a leaders’ debate face-to-face – to debate with Boiko Borissov on issues important to the country and the people,” the party said.
The three television stations had proposed a deadline of noon on February 28 for an agreement on the debate, noting that they would have scant time to prepare for the event.
Some days ago, GERB said that Borissov was willing to face Ninova in a television debate on February 28 on Nova Televizia or on bTV.
Eyebrows were raised on February 24 when, in exchanges via the media, Borissov was reported to have responded to Ninova’s challenge to a debate by saying that he was unsure whether he wants to have debates with women.
Ninova responded that for some time she had been waiting to face Borissov and “talk like men”.