Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party announced on March 31 its candidates in the May 26 2019 European Parliament elections, with Mariya Gabriel – a former MEP currently serving as a European Commissioner – topping the list.
Of Bulgaria’s 17 seats in the European Parliament, GERB currently holds six, and opinion polls currently suggest that it will get about the same number in the 2019 vote.
These polls, however, were done before the recent controversy over allegedly cut-price apartments that has cost the elected offices of some GERB politicians, including Tsvetan Tsvetanov, its election staff chief who resigned as an MP.
In the 2019 election, GERB is including in its list two candidates from the centre-right extra-parliamentary Union of Democratic Forces.
The first eight on the GERB list, apart from Gabriel, are Andrey Kovachev, Andrey Novakov, Eva Maydell, Asim Ademov, Alexander Yordanov, Liliyana Pavlova and Emil Radev.
All except Yordanov and Pavlova are currently GERB MEPs. Pavlova is a former Cabinet minister, whose most recent portfolio was Minister for Bulgaria’s 2018 Presidency of the Council of the EU. Yordanov is a UDF candidate.
Mariya Gabriel was elected a GERB MEP in the June 2009 European Parliament elections and was re-elected in the 2014 EP elections. From 2014 to 2017, she was vice-president of the EU-wide European People’s Party, of which GERB is a member, and headed the Bulgarian delegation in the EPP group.
In July 2017, she succeeded Kristalina Georgieva as Bulgaria’s European Commissioner, and was handed the Digital Economy and Society portfolio.
Candidates number nine to 17 are Ivelina Vassileva, Marin Zahariev, Ivo Ralchovska, Mladen Shishkov, Nikolai Dikov, Kamen Kostov, Yoana Fidova, Zheko Stankov and Iliya Lazarov (from the UDF).
The Central Election Commission (CEC) said on March 31 that the official campaign period ahead of the May 26 European Parliament elections would start on April 26. Registration of parties and coalition for the elections will start on April 1.
The CEC has not yet announced a tender for voting machines, but this is expected by the end of next week.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party earlier announced its list of candidate MEPs, which is headed by former journalist Elena Yoncheva.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms has not yet announced its candidate MEPs.
The reformist Democratic Bulgaria coalition list, currently seen in polls as having a chance of winning a seat, is headed by Radan Kanev, formerly of the Reformist Bloc.
The breakaway from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the ABC party founded by former president Georgi Purvanov, is standing in a coalition with six other parties, and intends using the name “Coalition for Bulgaria”, a name that was associated with the BSP for about a decade.
The United Patriots, the grouping of ultra-nationalist and far-right parties that is the minority partner in the coalition government formed by Borissov in 2017, is wracked by infighting and appears unlikely to stand together in the May 2019 vote, though there have been attempts for at least two out of its three constituent parties to stand together.
Volen Siderov, leader of Ataka – one of the three parties in the United Patriots – said that his party’s list leader would be chosen through a “reality TV” format on his mouthpiece cable television channel.