Bulgarian Socialist Party backs Radev for second term as President

The Bulgarian Socialist Party’s national council voted on April 17 to endorse Roumen Radev for a second term as the country’s President.

Held 13 days after Bulgaria’s parliamentary elections that saw the BSP fall to third place, with a mere 15 per cent of the vote, the national council was an occasion for critics of party leader Kornelia Ninova to hit out at her handling of the election campaign.

In particular, for the equivocation about whether the party was endorsing Radev for a second term, which led to reports of tensions between Ninova and Radev, who in November 2016 was elected head of state on a ticket backed by the BSP.

The dithering about Radev is seen as having contributed to the April 2021 parliamentary election result for the BSP being the party’s worst in many years.

Radev, who has routinely criticised Boiko Borissov’s government, is a popular figure among the BSP rank-and-file. A poll by Alpha Research, the results of which were released in January, found that in December, Radev’s national approval rating had risen from 42 to 46 per cent over three months.

Radev and Ninova in November 2016

Outside the BSP’s Positano Street headquarters, a group from the BSP Youth shouted calls for Ninova to resign. This came a few days after the BSP posted a photograph of members of the party’s youth wing expressing support for Ninova.

In the wake of the party’s reverse in the April parliamentary elections, Ninova announced the resignation of the BSP executive bureau but refused to step down as party leader.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Kiril Dobrev, one of Ninova’s critics and a previous rival for the party leadership, asked why it had taken losing an election for the BSP to endorse Radev. He said that Ninova should apologise to the party for the election result, but stopped short of saying she should resign.

The leader of the BSP in Sofia, Kaloyan Pargov, told reporters that the expression of support for Radev was belated.

Mihail Mikov, Ninova’s immediate predecessor as BSP leader, said in a media interview on April 17 that if Ninova completed her second term as party leader, there would be no BSP left by the end of it.

No date has been announced for Bulgaria’s 2021 presidential election, but it is likely to be on the first Sunday in November. Should no candidate win more than 50 per cent of the vote at the first round, a second round will be held a week later.

(Photo of Radev: president.bg)

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