Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party mayoral candidates had won the most votes in the country’s capital Sofia and the majority of its largest cities, winning mayoral elections in Sofia, Varna and Bourgas at the first round, according to exit polls at the close of voting in the country’s mayoral and municipal elections on October 25 2015.
In Sofia, incumbent mayor Yordanka Fandukova (GERB) got about 59.9 per cent, which if confirmed by official results would mean a first-round victory. In second place was the Reformist Bloc’s Vili Lilkov, with 9.5 per cent, and in third place, the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s Mihail Mirchev with eight per cent. Fandukova previously twice has been elected mayor of Sofia, the first time in 2009.
In the Sofia municipal council elections, GERB was seen as having about 46.5 per cent, followed by the Reformist Bloc with 11.5 per cent and the BSP with 10.1 per cent, with eight parties in the city council and some councillors nominated by initiative committees.
In Plovdiv, incumbent Ivan Totev (GERB) appeared to be headed to a second-round contest against his predecessor as mayor, Slavcho Atanassov, who in the October 25 election was the nominee of nationalist minority party VMRO. Totev got an estimated 36.6 per cent and Atanassov 19.6 per cent.
In Varna, incumbent Ivan Portnih (GERB) got 57.9 per cent, a first-round victory. Second was Chavdar Trifonov, a centre-right coalition candidate, with 11.6 per cent.
In Bourgas, incumbent Dimitar Nikolov (GERB), already noted for his first-round victory in a 2013 by-election when he got 76 per cent, this time also was seen as headed for a decisive first-round victory.
In Rousse, Plamen Stoilov (GERB) won a first-round victory with 51 per cent, with the BSP’s Bozhidar Yotov running second with 14 per cent.
Other first-round wins for GERB in mayoral elections were in Blagoevgrad, Stara Zagora, Veliko Turnovo, Gabrovo and Dobrich.
A predictable first-round victory was won by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms’ Hassan Azis, incumbent mayor of Kurdzhali. Azis got 53.8 per cent, with GERB’s Iliya Iliev coming in second with 27.7 per cent. The MRF also won 52.5 per cent in the city council elections.
Cities and towns seen as headed for run-offs in a week’s time included Vidin, Pleven, Haskovo and Shoumen. In each case, the second round contest would be between a GERB candidate and a nominee from another party.
About 6.3 Bulgarians were eligible to vote in the mayoral and municipal elections on October 25. Voter turnout was estimated at 46.5 per cent at 6pm.
There were 42 702 registered candidates, including 1605 candidate municipal mayors, 10 072 candidate mayors of the 3192 mayoralties, 696 candidates to be a mayor of one of the boroughs of Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna and 35 771 candidate municipal councillors. Discrepancies in sums may be accounted for cases where candidates have stood both as a would-be mayor and would-be councillor.
On election day, the Prosecutor’s Office said that it had initiated 92 pre-trial proceedings for various breaches of election rules in the municipal elections and the national referendum being held simultaneously.
Three people had been sentenced to jail, two after a plea bargain with prosecutors.