Bulgaria’s 2021 presidential elections: GERB-backed Gerdzhikov-Miteva ticket launched

The candidacy of Sofia University rector Anastas Gerdzhikov and running mate Colonel Nevyana Miteva in Bulgaria’s November 2021 presidential elections was launched at a ceremony in Sofia on October 3.

To be formally nominated by an initiative committee with more 70 members, including well-known public figures and academics, the Gerdzhikov-Miteva ticket has the backing of Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition, though at the launch, Gerdzhikov was at pains to emphasise his non-partisan status.

“I am not a politician, I do not think and speak like one and I imagine that I will not become one,” said Gerdzhikov, who has headed Sofia University since 2015.

“I am not a party member, I am not a party candidate, and I expect the support of all citizens who recognise the need to lend a hand to save ourselves from the current situation,” Gerdzhikov said.

He said that he had accepted the nomination because “I believe that at some point in his life everyone must pay back for what he has received from his country and his compatriots”.

Pledging that his campaign would be positive, he said that the goal was to restore normalcy in political relations. Members of the initiative committee who spoke to journalists at the launch event emphasised what they saw as the contrast between Gerdzhikov and incumbent President Roumen Radev – who is seeking a second term – accusing Radev of creating division in the nation.

“I am a Bulgarian like you,” Gerdzhikov said, “who is ready to take responsibility and pay the price for helping at least a little towards unification. When I say unification, I do not mean of politicians and parties, I am talking about the people and the nation,” he said.

In Bulgaria’s November 14 presidential elections, Radev has the backing of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Slavi Trifonov’s ITN and Kiril Petkov’s and Assen Vassilev’s We Continue the Change party, as well as some smaller formations.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms has said that it will nominate its own presidential candidate, but has indicated that should the election go to a second round between Radev and Gerdzhikov, it would back Gerdzhikov.

The Justice for All initiative, which for a number of years has campaigned for genuine judicial reform in Bulgaria, has announced that it is nominating outgoing Supreme Court of Cassation head Lozan Panov for president. Panov’s vice-presidential running mate is journalist Maria Kassimova.

Interviewed by Bulgarian National Radio on October 3, Democratic Bulgaria coalition co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that it would be natural for the coalition to support Panov’s candidacy. The constituent parties of Democratic Bulgaria are discussing the matter.

The presidential elections also will see a number of candidacies from ultra-nationalist and far-right parties, including Valeri Simeonov of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria and Volen Siderov, the leader of Ataka. The pro-Russian Vuzrazhdane party is nominating its leader, Kostadin Kostadinov, as its presidential candidate.

On the same day as the November presidential elections, Bulgarians go to the polls in parliamentary elections, for the third time this year, after the previous two failed to produce an elected government.

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