Boyko Borissov, the leader of Bulgaria’s largest political party who often presents himself as the country’s most pro-Western politician, confused supporters by first encouraging them to vote for pro-Russian Vanya Grigorova for the mayorship of Sofia before telling them to “vote with their conscience”.
Grigorova is the left-wing candidate in the Sofia mayoral elections, nominated by a coalition of socialists, nationalists, Russophiles and Putinists. In a run-off election on 5 November, she will face IT entrepreneur Vasil Terziev, nominated by the pro-European coalition We Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria – Safe Sofia.
Borissov’s mayoral candidate, Anton Hekimyan, came third and did not make it to the second round, while Terziev led with 31.8% and Grigorova came second with 21.56%. Commenting on the first-round results, Borissov and Bulgarian journalist Anton Hekyiman described the run-off as a race between “state security” and “state property”.
Terziev has family members who held senior positions in State Security, the repressive apparatus of Bulgaria’s totalitarian communist party until 1989.
Grigorova’s nomination is supported by BSP for Bulgaria, an umbrella organisation of the Bulgarian political left, which includes the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Neutral Bulgaria. The latter brings together three parties with Communists in their name, a party called New Force and another called Russophiles for the Revival of the Fatherland.
The Russophiles are led by Nikolai Malinov, who has been honoured by Russian President Putin, sanctioned by the US under the Global Magnitsky Act and accused of spying for Russia.
At the national level, GERB is in an informal coalition with We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and supports their nominated government. Former European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel represents GERB as deputy prime minister and foreign minister, with an agreement that she will succeed Nikolai Denkov as prime minister in March 2024. At the local level, however, they seem to be playing for themselves.
(Krassen Nikolov | Euractiv.bg)
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