Bulgaria’s 2019 local elections: A tale of two victories

There was a series of minor earthquakes in the Bulgarian town of Dospat in the Rhodope mountains on October 28, small stuff in the 2.6 Richter scale range, and hardly comparable to its headline-making political earthquake.

Voters in the town, said to have a population of just more than 5000 people, turned it into something of a one-party state in Sunday’s local elections, returning Elin Radev of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party as mayor and electing a council made up solely of GERB members.

Radev got close to 87 per cent of the vote, while in the council elections, GERB got 3404 of 3904 votes. For the party, the only problem now is that it had not come up with a list of candidates long enough to fill all the council seats, so a few will remain unoccupied for the next four years.

Neither the Movement for Rights and Freedoms nor the Bulgarian Socialist Party surpassed the threshold of 314 votes to win a council seat.

Bulgarian media interviewed residents of Dospat, who praised Radev, who now enters a second term in office, with one, Sali Afuzov, saying: “He did a lot, he’s good. There’s no other choice, just no competition”.

Radev must have been confident. Bulgarian National Television reported that he had not bothered campaigning.

Dospat is believed to date from about the 12th to the 13th centuries, and is said to have been founded by the Despot Alexius Slav. Hopefully its one-party state status will bear no temptation to despotism.

Elsewhere among smaller places that voted in Bulgaria’s 2019 local elections on October 27 and that otherwise would hardly make headlines, the outcome in Nessebur at the Black Sea also got national media attention.

Its mayor, Nikolai Dimitrov, won a first-round victory to gain a fourth term in office, with close to 60 per cent of the vote. Dimitrov was a town councillor from 1998 to 2007, when he was elected mayor, holding the post in elections in 2011, 2015 and now 2019. His GERB rival ran a rather distant second on Sunday.

Dimitrov, who as in all previous elections stood as an independent, was in no position to join celebrations, however, as he is currently in custody on the orders of the Special Criminal Court, facing charges of heading an organised crime group involved in vote-buying and electoral fraud.

Dimitrov denies all wrongdoing and has rejected the allegations against him as emanating from “pseudo-oligarchs and commercial interests” that want to take over his town. His latest mayoral election victory may suggest that he is popular in Nessebur.

(Photo of Dospat: Chech Explorer)

Bulgaria’s 2019 local elections: Factfile



The Sofia Globe staff

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