Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev, in a speech to Parliament on March 18, left open the question of whether he will be a candidate in the country’s presidential elections in the autumn.
In brief remarks to MPs on the presidential elections during his report-back on his annual month of political consultations with all parties represented in the National Assembly, Plevneliev said that he hoped these would be the only elections this year and that they would be held in a civilised manner, “without populism, without unprincipled confrontation”.
“Let there be as many as many as possible candidates, ideas, solutions – the people will choose the best of them,” Plevneliev said. On the benches of the National Assembly, MPs from various parties reacted with murmurs to Plevneliev’s use of the third-person.
Plevneliev became President in January 2012 after winning a second-round victory in 2011 on the ticket of Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, which then as now was in government.
In 2013 and 2014, amid political turbulence, Plevneliev twice had to appoint caretaker cabinets, first when Borissov resigned as head of government, and then when the highly unpopular 2013/14 government stepped down.
According to the most recent poll by Alpha Research, arguably the country’s most reliable opinion polling agency, Plevneliev had a 25 per cent approval rating in early March, making approval of the Presidency the highest among state institutions. This was three-point drop from the previous poll, in November 2015, while in that month, he had gained four points since the poll before that, in June.
Borissov and senior GERB leaders have been equivocal about whether Plevneliev – who in 2011 was drafted to the party’s ticket from his then-role as regional development minister – will be the candidate in presidential elections expected in late October or early November 2016. Borissov has hinted at wanting a woman presidential candidate, while recently GERB parliamentary leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the party would announce its candidate only in May or June.
Plevneliev himself recently has said that it was too early to discuss a candidacy.
GERB is not alone among Bulgarian political parties in not having telegraphed who its candidate will be. No other political party of significance has made an announcement on the issue.