Bulgaria: Political fallout after election of Sofia city council chairperson

Kostadin Kostadinov, leader of pro-Russian minority party Vuzrazhdane, announced on February 9 that the party had expelled three of its MPs in connection with the previous day’s vote in the Sofia city council that saw some Vuzrazhdane councillors vote in favour of the election of Tsvetomir Petrov as council chairperson.

Petrov, of the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria-Spasi Sofia group in the city council, defeated Vuzrazhdane’s candidate Emil Dimitrov.

The election of a Sofia city council chairperson, at the eighth attempt, ended an impasse that had endured since the council took office in November.

Reportedly, the Vuzrazhdane group in the city council had undertaken to support Petrov, but then the party put up its own candidate. The city council group split between supporting Petrov and Dimitrov.

The councillors from Vuzrazhdane who voted for Petrov – Krasimir Galabov, Ventsi Stoychev, Vasil Draganov and Sevdelina Petrova – were then expelled from the group, meaning that the group ceased to exist. In Sofia city council, a group must have at least five members. The expulsions left it with three.

Kostadinov said on February 9 that the four who had voted for Petrov had “chosen financial incentives over the cause”.

“We have received an overwhelming number of messages and inquiries from members and supporters for an explanation of the situation,” he said.

He said that at a February 8 meeting of the Sofia city branch of the party, the MPs who had nominated the city councillors had been asked to take political responsibility and resign.

“They refused and we expelled them. They are Nikolai Drenchev, Alexander Rangelov and Ivo Ruschev,” Kostadinov said.

The three who have been expelled will continue to sit, as independent MPs.

Vuzrazhdane had been the third-largest parliamentary group, with 37 MPs in the 240-seat National Assembly. The expulsion of the three leaves it with 34 MPs, meaning that it is now the fourth-largest, behind the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which has 36 MPs.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party executive bureau held a special meeting on February 9, at which it decided to remove its confidence from the BSP councillors in Sofia city council, and said that they would no longer represent the party.

At the next meeting of the BSP national council, they would be punished, the party said.

The BSP councillors had been ordered to nominate Diana Tonova as its candidate council chairperson. Instead, they did not nominate her, and six BSP councillors voted for Petrov.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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