The municipal council of Varna, Bulgaria’s third-largest city, elected Hristo Bozov on March 27 as caretaker mayor until a by-election is held this summer. Bozov, previously deputy mayor for health care and social activities, replaces long-standing mayor Kiril Yordanov, who submitted his resignation earlier this month.
Yordanov announced his resignation at a news conference on March 6, a day of national mourning for Plamen Goranov, the 36-year-old whose fatal self-immolation became a symbol of civic and political pressure for Yordanov to step down.
For weeks, protests in the Black Sea city had demanded the resignation of Yordanov, in his fourth term as mayor of the city, as part of a nationwide campaign against Bulgaria’s political establishment. In Varna, protesters shouted slogans and held placards about alleged links between Yordanov and powerful business group TIM.
Bozov (53) is the former head of Varna’s military hospital and a deputy mayor since 2008. He was elected unanimously by the 35 councillors present for the vote; councillors from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, who demanded the resignation of the municipal council, did not attend.
In his first remarks after the appointment, Bozov said that he would work towards a more transparent city hall and emphasised the need to reduce tension in the city ahead of the early parliamentary elections in May, but also before the tourist since begins.
He said that he would not stand for Parliament, nor run for mayor in the upcoming by-election because that would interfere with his duties as caretaker mayor.
Under Bulgarian law, now that district electoral commission has decided to end Yordanov’s tenure as mayor following his resignation – a decision that several groups in the city chose to appeal – the district commission must discuss potential dates for the by-election and submit its recommendations to the Central Electoral Commission.
The central authority, in turn, will pass the recommendations to President Rossen Plevneliev, who must officially set the date for the by-election no sooner than 50 days from the publication of his decree. The soonest date for the by-election, according to reports in local media, is June 30.
(Varna city centre, as seen from the Black Sea, photo by KamenKunchev/flickr.com)