Outgoing supreme court judge to stand in Bulgaria’s presidential election

Bulgarian judicial reform campaign group the Justice for All initiative said on October 2 that it had decided to nominate Lozan Panov, the outgoing head of the Supreme Court of Cassation, as a candidate in the country’s November 2021 presidential election.

The Justice for All initiative has for several years campaigned for meaningful judicial reform in Bulgaria and was closely involved in protests against the nomination and appointment of Ivan Geshev as Prosecutor-General.

Panov, who became head of the Supreme Court of Cassation in February 2015 and whose term expires in February 2022, recently criticised incumbent President Roumen Radev in a television interview for his initial passivity on the issue of judicial reform.

To be able to stand in the presidential election, Panov will have to submit his resignation to the Supreme Judicial Council, next due to meet on October 7. Should his resignation be accepted, this would have to be confirmed by decree by Radev, in time for the October 12 closing date for nominations of presidential candidates to be submitted to the Central Election Commission.

Unconfirmed reports in the Bulgarian media said that it was expected that Panov’s candidacy would be supported by the Democratic Bulgaria coalition, which is co-led by Hristo Ivanov, who resigned as justice minister in the second Borissov government out of frustration at thwarted judicial reform.

In the same television interview this week, when asked if he would be Democratic Bulgaria’s candidate, Panov said: “With the way I express myself, the different opinion I stand for, I am not convinced that I would be attractive for anyone”.

Should the procedures be completed in time for Panov to be a candidate, he would be up against Radev, who is seeking a second term, standing as an independent backed by 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, while Panov also would be competing against Anastas Gerdzhikov, the rector of Sofia University, also standing as an independent, backed by Boiko Borissov’s GERB party.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and various ultra-right groupings, also have said that they intend fielding presidential candidates.

(Photo of Panov via BNT)

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