Sofia, November 3, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Political parties whose candidates lost in mayoral elections in three of Bulgaria’s largest cities are mounting various challenges to the outcomes, from requesting recounts to outright annulment.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party won the elections in most of Bulgaria’s largest cities and towns, including the capital city Sofia, Varna on the Black Sea, and – by a very narrow margin – Plovdiv.
In Plovdiv, the Patriotic Front, whose candidate Slavcho Atanassov lost by 1416 votes to GERB’s Ivan Totev, will seek a recount. Patriotic Front co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov said on November 3 that the municipal election commission had been hasty in announcing the results.
According to Karakachanov, on the day of the second-round mayoral election in Plovdiv, there was only disorder and a recount of the ballots would ensure the integrity of the vote.
Speaking in a television interview, a few hours ahead of an official PF news conference on the election results, he said that there was “no doubt” that someone had rigged the election as had happened four years ago – when in 2011 Totev also narrowly beat Atanassov – and that the election commission had “hurried” to announce the result.
He said that on the premises of the municipal election commission, there had been no security guards and bags had been left on the ground and, he alleged, the commission head had said, “well, if you don’t like it, complain”.
A recount would take no more than half a day. “It will be good to see what is the truth”.
In Sofia, the leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party in the capital, Kaloyan Pargov, told Bulgarian National Television that the party would lodge an application in the Supreme Administrative Court on November 4 for the annulment of the elections in Sofia.
In Sofia, GERB’s Yordanka Fandukova won a first-round victory on October 25, and thus a third term as mayor. GERB won the largest single share of seats in the city council, and at the first and second rounds, most of the district mayor seats.
Pargov said that 70 to 80 per cent of the records of the voting results had been corrected unlawfully.
“This is about respecting the Electoral Code, compliance with the decisions of the Central Election Commission, the work of the Municipal Election Commission, about everything that happened at Arena Armeec,” he said, the last a reference to chaos at the centre where ballots were processed.
In Varna, the centre-right coalition Reformist Bloc, BSP and socialist breakaway ABC as well as a representative of local coalition Life for Varna signed a request for the annulment of the elections in the Black Sea city.
GERB won the mayoral election in Varna at the first round and the largest single share of city council seats. The four coalitions and parties that have lodged the request for annulment of the elections said that there had been “unprecedented plunder and manipulation of the vote”.
It had been announced that a news conference on the application for annulment would be held on the morning of November 3, but late on the afternoon of November 2, the briefing was cancelled.