Candidate carousel for Bulgarian presidential election begins to spin

Presidential elections in Bulgaria are to be held in October 2011; however, parties have not named their candidates yet. The governing GERB announced that it will name its candidate not until summer.

In an interview with the private television station TV7, prime minister Boyko Borisov declared that his party would announce its candidate in June or July. the choice of candidate and his/her respective chances of success are however unclear. In the beginning, GERB wanted to nominate interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov but the party leadership unofficially abandoned this strategy after he was suspected of being involved in tax discrepancies of his in-laws. Many analysts see Bulgarian EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva as the clear favourite but insiders already noted that Georgieva is not especially willing to start in the elections. Lastly, rumors persists that prime minister Borisov himself will be the party’s candidate. Furthermore, Borisov recently stated that there were at least five likely candidates among the ranks of his party but failed to name anybody in particular.

Whoever runs on the GERB’s ticket will have serious problems to win the election – a recent opinion poll revealed that 63 per cent of the Bulgarian voting population would prefer a president from outside the GERB. Other parties have not officially announced their candidates yet. The nationalist leader Volen Siderov will probably have another go at the presidential office (he was placed second in the 2006 presidential race) but is unlikely to attract genuine support due to his increasingly controversial xenophobic views.

Incumbent president Georgi Parvanov is currently in his second term and therefore not allowed to run for office a third time. His party (his ‘original’ party one should say as he has recently been involved in founding a new political platform), the Bulgarian Socialist Party, has not named a presidential candidate either. The obvious candidate seems to be party leader and former prime minister Stanishev but this remains speculation.

Lastly, Bulgarian media are afraid that turnout in the election might experience a new low – in 2006, only slightly more than 40 per cent of Bulgarians went to the polls.

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