Bulgaria’s 2021 elections: GERB will back university rector in presidential race, Borissov says

GERB will support Sofia University rector Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov in the November 2021 presidential elections, party leader Boiko Borissov has said.

Gerdzhikov is to be nominated by an initiative committee, the membership of which is to be announced on October 3.

“We were happy to learn about the nomination by the initiative committee and decided to support it. He will choose his own vice-presidential candidate. We will help and participate with several people in the initiative committee,” Borissov said.

The GERB leader said that Bulgaria needs “peace, education, democracy and humility”.

Borissov said that the president should not be a party official, but was an institution whose task it was to unite the nation.

“I am sure that people will prefer a smart, intelligent and educated person, who is open to dialogue, as president who can unite the nation,” he said.

Gerdzhikov will be going up against incumbent President Roumen Radev, who is seeking a second term and who has the stated support of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, cable television presenter Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party and that of the new party founded by former caretaker ministers Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev, as well as some smaller political forces.

Borissov, in a sideswipe against the incumbent President, referred to him as “Dictator Radev” and said that Radev would “lose the election because he divides the nation”.

“Because of his games and his raised fist, the state has spent half a billion on elections and still has no government,” Borissov said, referring to Radev’s public support for the anti-government protests in 2020 and to the succession of failures to get a government elected this year. Bulgaria currently is being run by an interim administration appointed by Radev.

“Everything in the country is going downhill and it will take years to restore it,” Borissov said.

He said that GERB had had two or three possible presidential candidates, including former deputy prime minister Tomislav Donchev and Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov, but 10 days previously, former education minister Krassimir Vulchev had told him that “in academic circles, Professor Gerdzhikov is being discussed”.

“This is one person who could unite the nation,” Borissov said.

Borissov rejected with scorn Radev’s challenge for the GERB leader to be his party’s candidate in November, and Radev’s statement that Borissov was “hiding behind Gerdzhikov’s academic gown”.

“We hate each other, we don’t love each other. Is that the goal of the presidential election? Or are we looking for a person who, in this complex political situation, can bring us all together, be equidistant and not interfere,” Borissov said.

Gerdzhikov, 58, studied classical philology at Sofia University and Humboldt University in Berlin. He earned a doctorate in 2006 and became a professor of ancient and mediaeval literature in 2008. From 2001 to 2003, he was deputy minister of education, at the time of the Saxe-Coburg government. Gerdzhikov became the rector of Sofia University in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019.

(Photo via BNT)

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