As was expected, the October 27 mayoral election vote in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia opened the way for a second-round contest a week later, between incumbent mayor and GERB candidate Yordanka Fandukova and her socialist-backed rival, Maya Manolova.
Eighteen candidates fell by the wayside, leaving Fandukova and Manolova to battle it out on November 3.
Speaking after the announcement of exit polls on October 27 after voting ended, Fandukova, who has served three terms as Sofia mayor, thanked those who had supported her candidacy.
“Thank you for your trust, this means a great responsibility to me,” she said.
Fandukova, a former head of a school who served briefly as Education Minister in Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s first government before succeeding him as mayor of Sofia, expressed confidence that Sofia residents had shown that they had the right judgment and wanted Sofia’s development to continue.
“I hope that next Sunday the citizens of Sofia will come out to vote because this choice is important. We are coming up with specific solutions and projects.”
Fandakova said she was ready to speak to all right-wing candidates, because Sofia residents had shown that there were good and pragmatic decisions in their programmes.
“I think I was very clear throughout the campaign, with the projects, with the solutions for the city, I am not hiding behind empty talk and common words. That’s how I work, people know me,” Fandukova said.
According to Alpha Research, at the first round Fandukova got 34.5 per cent of the vote, against 26. 2 per cent for Manolova. This was a blow for Manolova, whom earlier polls had shown as being neck-and-neck with the GERB candidate.
“I want to thank everyone who came out today to vote, who voted for the change, who voted for me. Thank you for your efforts, for your faith, for your courage. Today Sofia has shown that it wants a change, but we need another week’s determination,” Manolova, a lawyer, former Deputy Speaker of Parliament and former national Ombudsman, said.
“Citizens must show that we can unite, be above our party biases when we fight for change in Sofia,”she said.
“Today’s result means that we can stop corruption, the one-party monopoly, the dirty air in power and on the street.”
For Manolova, the choice on November 3 would be between “dictatorship and democracy”.
“Choice is a sacred right,” she said, invoking the ancient roots of the name of Bulgaria’s capital city: “‘Sofia’ means wisdom,” Manolova said.