The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) has refrained from endorsing a candidate by name in Bulgaria’s November 21 presidential election run-off, saying that it was leaving it up to its “wise electorate” to decide whom to vote for.
The run-off vote this coming Sunday is between incumbent President Roumen Radev, who is endorsed by several parties and who got 49.42 per cent at the first round on November 14, and GERB-backed Anastas Gerdzhikov, who got 22.8 per cent, according to official final results released by the Central Election Commission.
In the early parliamentary elections on November 14, the MRF got 13 per cent, while its leader Mustafa Karadayi ran third in the presidential elections, with 11.57 per cent.
On November 17, Karadayi told a briefing that the presidential institution should be a unifier of citizens, “a pillar of the constitution and the rule of law”.
The presidency should be a place of consensus both during crises and normal times, represent statehood and be the voice of national unifying causes, he said.
Karadayi said that the MRF voter was “very wise and will make the right choice” and would “vote for the president who comes closest to the profile outlined”.
Some observers had expected the MRF to endorse Gerdzhikov, mainly because of the public display of tensions between Karadayi and Radev. At the briefing, Karadayi mentioned neither Gerdzhikov or Radev by name.
Gerdzhikov’s message ahead of the first round vote was that, in contrast to Radev, whom he portrayed as a divider of the nation, he would be a unifier.
The week between the two elections is seeing both the run-off election contest, including a debate between Radev and Gerdzhikov on public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television on the night of November 18, and – in the wake of the parliamentary elections – moves towards formal talks on proposing a government to be elected by the new National Assembly.
Radev has official endorsements from the We Continue the Change (WCC) party, winner of the largest share of votes in the November 14 parliamentary elections, cable television presenter Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party, and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).
However, Kornelia Ninova, who on November 16 announced that she was resigning as BSP leader in the wake of what she acknowledged to be her party’s “catastrophic” parliamentary election results, gave no direct answer in a television interview last night to questions whether she continued to endorse Radev and whether she intended voting on Sunday. Among those that Ninova has blamed for her party’s dismal performance is the caretaker government appointed by Radev.
Other voices in the BSP, including Christian Vigenin – who stepped down as election campaign chief because of the party’s poor result this past Sunday – have publicly insisted that the BSP remains behind the Radev ticket.
On November 17, the Yes Bulgaria party, a member of the Democratic Bulgaria coalition, announced that it had given a mandate to Hristo Ivanov to lead negotiations with WCC and other parties on a coalition government. The announcement came a day after Ivanov resigned as the party’s leader because of Yes Bulgaria’s dismal election result.
Democratic Bulgaria has not announced a decision on whether to endorse a candidate in the presidential election run-off, and if so, which one.
The talks on government formation are to be conducted between WCC, ITN, the BSP and Democratic Bulgaria. In the past few days, the leaders of all of these parties have spoken of the constructive approach being taken, in contrast to this year’s failed attempts in this year’s two previous parliaments to vote a government into office.
(Screenshot of Karadayi from his November 17 briefing)
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