Bulgaria Votes 2007 Finals

November 5, 2007 by  
Filed under News

Bulgaria’s ruling Socialists and the GERB party of Sofia mayor Boyko Borissov have emerged as the biggest winners in the final tally of mayors elected in Bulgaria’s 27 regional capitals. Socialist runners and independent nominees backed by the senior partner in the ruling coalition won 11 of the cities and towns that serve as administrative centres of Bulgaria’s regions. The biggest win for the Socialists was to retain the Black Sea port of Varna, where the nominee it backed, along with a host of other parties and local initiative committees, Kiril Yordanov was re-elected for a third term in office. The other ten cities are Blagoevgrad Lovech, Pernik, Razgrad, Russe, Silistra, Smolyan, Targovishte, Haskovo and Shumen. But the Socialists also lost several towns traditionally considered their strongholds, such as Burgas, Stara Zagora or Vratsa.

GERB, showing only at its second election after the MEP vote in May, has made its presence on the political scene known by taking three of the country’s big four cities – capital Sofia, Plovdiv and Burgas. It has also wrestled control from the Socialists in Stara Zagora and Vratsa, while also imposing themselves in Vidin, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Sliven and Yambol.

Rightist parties, represented mainly by the alliance between the Union of Democratic Forces and Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB), occasionally backed by other parties, won five seats. In addition to securing the re-election of rightist mayors in Veliko Tarnovo, Pleven and Montana, the alliance won Kyustendil and Pazardzhik.

The ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), a junior partner in the ruling three-way coalition, won only one major town – their stronghold of Kardzhali, where the incumbent was re-elected in the first round of voting.

Despite the fact that the Socialists secured more municipal councillors and mayors, primarily because of its strength in rural areas, GERB got a bigger chunk of the popular vote, thanks to its stronger showing in urban areas, and capital Sofia in particular. If the same figures as during the first round of voting last week were recorded at the next parliamentary polls, it would become the biggest party in the parliament, with 61 out of 240 seats.

The current ruling coalition between the Socialists, MRF and the ex-king Simeon Saxe-Coburg’s party, would get only 111 seats, well short of the current domination it enjoys in the legislature, where it has 168 MPs. The rightist coalition between UDF and DSB would see its presence boosted from 32 to 48 seats, with nationalists Ataka and MRF also seeing small gains. But the fairly even distribution of seats, without any party dominating the vote, and the fractious relationship between most Bulgarian parties would make it very difficult to create a workable majority in the legislature.