The race for Sofia mayor is in the focus of public attention before the beginning of the new political season

Photo: BGNES

One day before the beginning of the autumn session of the Bulgarian National Assembly the political emotions ran high after two people who were until now expected to run for mayor of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia officially announced their candidatures. The local elections in Sofia often show the balance of political powers in Bulgaria. The acting mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova officially confirmed that she would run again for mayor of this country’s capital and several hours later, the national Ombudsman Maya Manolova announced that she would also join the race for mayor of Sofia.

On occasion of the pre-election situation, a national daily newspaper noted that “the election campaign begins with intrigue”. GERB party, which formed a government in coalition with political parties from the nationalistic space, entered in coalition with the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) for the local elections.  In Sofia, the ruling party nominated Yordanka Fandakova to run for mayor, but a candidate of another right-wing formation (Democratic Bulgaria) will run for mayor of Bulgaria’s capital as well. Fandakova’s main opponent Maya Manolova was a popular figure in the Bulgarian Socialist party in the near past. However, she refused to be nominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and preferred to be the candidate of an independent initiative committee instead. Whether BSP will support Manolova at the forthcoming local elections depends on the decision of the Sofia organization of the party, but it will most likely do so.  The leader of Movement 21 Tatyana Doncheva gave a different angle to the intrigue related to the local elections in Sofia. Two days ago, Doncheva said that the right-wing parties and formations must support Maya Manolova, because she is the best option available. A popular web site called this statement “a dream of a fatherland front between left-wing and right- wing parties”, but a survey of Gallup International sociological agency showed that this statement is not groundless. According to the sociological survey, Manolova will receive 8% more votes than GERB’s nominee Fandakova at the local elections and that perhaps half of the supporters of the United Patriots coalition and the Democratic Bulgaria coalition will vote for Manolova at the run-off elections and the other half will prefer Fandakova. The forecasts and the hypotheses related to the local elections in Sofia attract huge attention, because a possible victory of Maya Manolova would undermine the positions of GERB at a local level as well as in this country’s government. However, the local elections are a big challenge to the other political forces as well. The Bulgarian Socialist party performed below expectations at the elections for European Parliament this spring and a defeat at the local elections this autumn would allow the internal opposition to put more pressure on this party’s leader Kornelia Ninova and the central leadership. VMRO and NFSB, which are still formally part of the United Patriots coalition, have not yet decided on their coalitions for the local elections. However, the two political parties made it clear that they will not enter in coalition with Ataka party. The local elections scheduled for October 27 will be subject to increased attention, because the Bulgarian National Assembly already allowed the political parties to receive financing by natural and legal persons. The public sensitivity to this topic sharpened yesterday when the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance announced that some of the political parties, including BSP and the parties from the United Patriots coalition (VMRO, NFSB and Ataka) have not yet returned the overpaid state subsidies. The summer recess of the National Assembly has ended and the first sitting of the autumn session of the Parliament will be held on September 4. The election topics and speculations will definitely prevail in the first sitting of the Bulgarian Parliament.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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