In what was hardly a surprise development, the Bulgarian Socialist Party in Sofia has voted to endorse former Ombudsman Maya Manolova’s candidacy for mayor of the Bulgarian capital city in the country’s autumn 2019 local elections.
The vote to endorse Manolova, a former BSP MP, was 142 in favour with two abstentions, according to a report in party mouthpiece Duma.
BSP Sofia leader Kaloyan Pargov will head the list of the party’s candidate city councillors.
Pargov said after the vote that Manolova’s chances in the Sofia mayoral election were “significant”.
BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said that the party had authorised the Sofia branch to meet Manolova to find common points and policies in their election platforms.
Asked if the decision to support Manolova would change if no common ground was found, Ninova said: “We have decided today that there is no way to change that decision, we just need to talk about policies, find common ground”.
The mayoral race in Sofia is expected to come down to a contest between incumbent Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, a deputy leader of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, and Manolova.
As happened in Bulgaria’s May 2019 European Parliament elections, GERB has been signing electoral alliances with a number of minor extra-parliamentary right-wing parties. In Sofia, Manolova’s candidacy also has been endorsed by some minor centrist parties, such as the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement founded years ago by former European Commissioner Meglena Kouneva.
Manolova, although she was a controversial figure at the time of the 2013/14 “Oresharski” administration, when she was Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, subsequently became a popular figure – according to opinion polls – through her incumbency from 2015 onwards of the office of Ombudsman.