After casting his ballot in presidential elections on November 6, Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev – who is not standing for re-election – wished his successor a calmer term in office than he has had.
Plevneliev, since taking office in January 2012, has twice had to appoint caretaker governments amid the political crises of 2013/14. He also has been caught up in domestic political controversies, for example over his affirmation that Crimea remains part of Ukraine in spite of Russia’s illegal annexation of the territory.
He urged people to come out to vote, according to their conscience and on the basis of a reasoned decision.
“We have a combination of elections and a referendum, we have compulsory voting, which was done more to motivate people than for them to see it as some restrictive policy of the state,” Plevneliev said.
“I wish the new President, whoever it is, a calmer term in office. I wish for him that the world finds its balance, including with the participation of Bulgaria, because today there is no such balance, and I wish him to receive the trust of the people and civil society,” he said.
By Bulgarian electoral law, campaigning on election day is illegal, confining political leaders in their statements during voting hours.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, speaking after casting his ballots in Bankya, told reporters that the amendments to the Electoral Code had been made to give greater opportunity to people to vote abroad and in Bulgaria.
“These changes have not made things worse, but enable everyone who wants to vote to do so,” Borissov said.
Asked if there were any organisational problems on election day, Borissov said that as far as he knew, polling stations everywhere were operating normally. “God grant that the elections pass peacefully and that the best candidate wins,” he said.
Tsetska Tsacheva, on leave from her post as Speaker of the National Assembly to stand as GERB’s candidate in the presidential elections, said that she had voted for a “stable and secure Bulgaria”, “in which we live educated and prosperous.”
“I voted for more justice in Bulgarian society, for working institutions, for the maintenance of national traditions, for the defence of national interests,” Tsacheva said.
Kornelia Ninova, leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, said that she had voted for “the beginning of change, for a President who would be guided solely by the national interest and a sense of justice, for a President who would represent Bulgaria honourably to the world. A person who would restore to us the confidence of a proud nation and who would be a caring steward of the state and its people”.
BSP-backed candidate Roumen Radev said after voting: “We all know that change is urgent. The people will take democracy into their own hands”.
Krassimir Karakachanov, the candidate of the United Patriots – National Movement for the Salvation of Bulgaria, Ataka and VMRO – ticket, said that he had voted for a strong future state in which there was no vote-buying and foreign interests did not determine the future of Bulgarian citizens.
Ataka leader Volen Siderov said that he voted for the President to be a patriot who would defend the national interest and know how to deal with issues of foreign and domestic policy. “Today is a good day for Bulgarian democracy,” Siderov said.
Plamen Oresharski, standing as an independent, and endorsed by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, said that he had voted for a President who would “give a new tone”.
Reformist Bloc presidential candidate Traicho Traikov said that he voted “to give strength to free people”.
ABC presidential candidate Ivailo Kalfin said that he had voted for a President who would “bring calm and less tension in society,” while ABC party leader and former president Georgi Purvanov said that the new President should be “a very highly qualified, experienced statesman who is able to engage the institution with the problems of the security of the state and every individual citizen”.