Guterres again leads in UN vote as Bulgarian Bokova drops even further

Portugal’s former prime minister and former head of the UN Commission for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, topped the UN Security Council September 26 vote on a future Secretary-General for the fifth time, while Bulgaria’s candidate Irina Bokova fell a further place to rank sixth.

Guterres got 12 “encourage” votes, making him the only candidate to get above the nine votes from the Security Council’s 15 members seen as necessary to advance in this stage of the race. On September 9, he got 12 votes.

Guterres, who also won the first vote on July 21 with the support of 12 votes and on August 5 with 11 votes, got 11 “encourage” votes, three “discourage” and one “no opinion” in the August 29 straw poll.

Second was Serbia’s Vuk Jeremic, with eight encourage votes, six discourage and one “no opinion” vote.

Third was Slovakia’s Miroslav Lacjak, with eight encourage votes, seven discourage votes and zero “no opinions”.

This was Bokova’s worst performance so far. In the four previous votes, the best she did was to rank in joint third place. In the previous vote, on September 9, Bokova was fifth.

This time around, in the September 26 vote, Bokova got six “encourage” votes, seven “discourage” votes and two “no opinions”.

Bokova also, in contrast to the previous four votes, did not place top among the women candidates. Argentina’s Susana Malcorra outdid Bokova, getting seven “encourage” votes, seven “discourage” votes and one “no opinion”, putting the Argentinian in fourth place.

New Zealand’s Helen Clark got six “encourage” votes, nine “discourage” votes and zero “no opinions”.

It now remains to be seen whether Bokova’s latest decline in performance among the 15 Security Council members will result in the Bulgarian government deciding whether she should walk the plank as the country’s official candidate.

Following media reports that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right coalition government was poised to dump Bokova in favour of respected European Commission vice-president Kristalina Georgieva, Borissov said on September 13 that Bokova remained Bulgaria’s candidate, but unless she placed in the top two on September 26, his government would reconsider the question.

Georgieva said in recent days that the issue of Bulgaria’s candidate to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the next UN Secretary-General was a matter for the government in Sofia to decide.

The next straw poll among the UN Security Council is expected on October 5, when the ballots will be colour-coded, signifying the vote of the Security Council’s permanent members.

One of those permanent members is Russia, initially seen as the main backer of Bokova, whose partisan political background is with Bulgaria’s communist party lineage that now is the Bulgarian Socialist Party. Russia summoned Bulgaria’s ambassador in Moscow after the reports that Bulgaria was considering dumping Bokova in favour of Georgieva. More lately, however, though a recent statement confirmed that Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov had met Bokova on the sidelines of the opening session of the UN General Assembly, it said only that they had discussed the race, without the Kremlin issuing any public endorsement of Bokova.




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, 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.