Bulgaria’s GERB again postpones announcement of presidential candidate

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party has again postponed announcing its candidate in the country’s November 2016 presidential elections.

Throughout this year, the announcement has been postponed a number of times, from April to, until recently, September. On August 29, GERB deputy leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said in a television interview that the announcement would now be made “by October 2”.

In mid-summer, Borissov said that the reason that the announcement would be made in September was because he was irritated by journalists repeatedly asking him for the name. Borissov, himself the subject of speculation that he would be the party’s candidate, has been accused by political rivals of not actually having a candidate at all.

Various names have been raised in speculation, including Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov, European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva and Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU funds, Tomislav Donchev. GERB and the people concerned have issued denials about possible Georgieva and Donchev candidacies.

Tsvetanov said that the delays in the announcement were not because GERB did not have a candidate.

He said that the GERB presidential candidate has government experience and is well-known in European capitals. The party would be putting forward a “mediator” able to cope with the complicated international situation, Tsvetanov said.

“The delay is not necessitated by us having no solution. The delay is necessitated by the fact that we wanted, during these months, the goverment, local government and Parliament to work calmly and I think that we have succeeded,” he said.

Referring to incumbent head of state President Rossen Plevneliev, who in May said that he would not stand for a second term in office, Tsvetanov said that Plevneliev had had a very difficult term in office.

In 2013 and 2014, Plevneliev had been very busy with the great responsibility of forming two governments to conduct parliamentary elections.

Bulgaria will hold presidential elections, along with a national referendum, on November 6. Should no presidential candidate win more than 50 per cent of the vote on November 6, a second round will be held on November 13.

Few major parties and coalitions have announced candidates.

The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party is nominating former Air Force commander Roumen Radev. A deal with socialist splinter party ABC, led by former president and former BSP leader Georgi Purvanov, to support Radev, fell apart amid acrimony.

ABC is to come up with its own presidential candidate.

The nationalist Patriotic Front and Volen Siderov’s Ataka will be mounting a joint ticket, headed by the PF’s Krassimir Karakachanov with Ataka’s Yavor Notev as vice-presidential candidate.

On August 29, a third left-wing candidate appeared likely to emerge, with Tatyana Doncheva, a former BSP MP who now leads minority extra-parliamentary socialist party Movement 21, strongly hinting that she would be her party’s presidential candidate.

Doncheva, in a television interview, dismissed Radev as the candidate of the arms lobby associated with Purvanov. She noted that Radev’s first meeting after being named as the BSP candidate was with so-called “patriotic organisations”, which she described as being made up of former recruiters and active agents for the former secret services.

The refusal of the BSP to have a coalition with ABC showed that they had no intention of winning the election, but were mired in infighting, Doncheva said.



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.