Roumyana Zheleva, the former foreign minister and failed European Commissioner-designate, who was surprisingly nominated for a second term as vice president of the European People’s Party, has failed to gather sufficient votes to be re-elected at the EPP congress in Bucharest, Bulgarian news agency BTA reported.
Zheleva was among the three losing candidates for 10 vice president seats, winning only 266 votes from 602 delegates.
Bulgaria’s ruling party GERB was expected to nominate one of its MEPs, Andrei Kovachev or Maria Gabriel, for the post. Instead, Zheleva was put forth for a second term at the insistence of EPP president Wilfried Martens, who has repeatedly spoken favourably about Zheleva, according to reports in Bulgarian media.
Martens, the 76-year-old former Belgian prime minister, who has been at the helm of EPP for the past 20 years, won another term in Bucharest.
Zheleva is best known for her disastrous confirmation hearing in European Parliament in January 2010, when she was grilled by MEPs for an alleged failure to follow the rules on disclosure of business interests. Following her flustered performance, she quit her bid to become European Commissioner and resigned as foreign minister, but remained EPP president, a position to which she was elected in December 2009.
Her failed re-election bid is just the latest in a series of recent public relations missteps by GERB, prompting wide-spread ridicule on social media in recent days, after Zheleva’s nomination was reported by the media. With parliamentary elections due in June, Bulgaria’s ruling party has been losing ground to its main rivals in opinion polls, although most polls still show it in the lead.
(File photo of Roumyana Zheleva during her confirmation hearing as European Commissioner-designate in European Parliament on January 12 2010. Photo: European Parliament.)