The leaders’ council of the centre-right coalition Reformist Bloc has proposed naming Traicho Traikov, formerly a minister in Boiko Borissov’s first Cabinet, as the bloc’s candidate in Bulgaria’s November 6 2016 presidential elections.
The recommendation, announced on September 1 by the head of the coalition’s election staff Naiden Zelenogorski, is subject to approval by the Reformist Bloc’s executive council.
The Reformist Bloc, a coalition of five parties – the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, the Union of Democratic Forces, the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and the People’s Party Freedom and Dignity – has been shown by recent polls to have between five and six per cent electoral support.
In Bulgaria’s National Assembly, it is the fourth-largest parliamentary group, with 23 MPs in the 240-seat legislature.
The bloc is in an anomalous position politically. Most of its constituent parties support the Borissov government formed in November 2014, and the bloc participates in the coalition government, including with a deputy prime minister. However, since late 2015, one of the parties – Radan Kanev’s DSB – has been in opposition.
The nomination of Traikov, with General Subi Subev as the proposed Reformist Bloc vice-presidential candidate, follows a protracted process of the bloc trying to agree among themselves on a presidential candidate, already having missed a self-imposed deadline of the end of August to do so.
Talk within parts of the bloc of possibly having a joint ticket with Borissov’s GERB – which is yet to announce its candidate – appear to have come to nothing.
Traikov (46) was Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister in Borissov’s government from 2009 to 2012, with his term ending ostensibly over a Bulgarian government business forum in Qatar in March 2012 having descended into farce because of poor organisation.
The Qatar episode was widely seen as a pretext for getting rid of Traikov, against a background of tensions between him and Borissov over energy issues, in particular Traikov’s adamant stance against Bulgarian energy dependence on Russia.
After his ousting from the Cabinet, Traikov made repeated media appearances, criticising Borissov’s government. Traikov joined the Reformist Bloc in 2013 and was elected a Sofia city councillor at the head of the bloc’s ticket in regular municipal elections in 2015.
A graduate of Sofia’s First English Language School, Traikov graduated in international economic relations at the University of National and World Economy in 1994. He worked in the financial analysis and management sector in Austria and Germany and from 2005 to 2009, for Austrian energy utility EVN Bulgaria.
The political fate of Traikov as the bloc’s possible presidential candidate seemed unclear on September 1, as daily 24 Chassa quoted UDF leader Bozhidar Lukarski – also economy minister in the current Borissov Cabinet – as saying that the Traikov candidacy was unacceptable to the UDF.
Traikov was an opposition figure, while the bloc was part of the government, and if Traikov was nominated, the bloc members of the Cabinet would have to resign their posts, Lukarski was quoted as saying.