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Tense clash between pro-EU, pro-Russian mayoral candidates in Sofia

8 months ago 28

The Sofia mayoral election – meant to be the key to the stability of the pro-EU government in Bulgaria – turned into a tense clash between pro-EU candidate Vasil Terziev and pro-Russian candidate Vanya Grigorova on Sunday.

With 90% of the ballots counted, Terziev has a 1,5% lead over Grigorova, at 48.28% to 46.76%. The final result will be clear after counting all votes on Monday afternoon.

The elections are essential for the We Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria (PP-DB) coalition, which promoted the candidacy of the IT entrepreneur Vasil Terziev and is the main political force that supports the Bulgarian pro-EU government. The victory in Sofia is considered symbolic and will probably stabilise the political situation in the country.

“The elections in Sofia are a clash between the old communist left, which looks to the East towards Russia, and the new liberal pro-European left from the PP-DB,” political analyst Ognyan Minchev commented to the state television BNT.

At the same time, GERB leader Boyko Borissov, whose support is vital for political stability in the country, showed his irritation at the loss of power in the capital of Sofia. GERB has ruled Bulgaria’s largest city for 17 years, but a poor legacy and allegations of corruption eliminated the party from the race on Sunday.

Borissov announced that on Wednesday, he would gather members of his party to decide whether to continue supporting the government.

GERB has no other options to stay in power and pursue a pro-European policy, except in the current configuration with the PP-DB and the Turkish minority party DPS (Renew).

The leader of GERB announced that his party wants to conclude an official coalition agreement with PP-DB to support the government and finance large infrastructure projects to construct highways in Northern Bulgaria.

Most Bulgarian political analysts believe that a pro-EU government will survive the local elections despite Borissov’s threats that he may withdraw his support. The leader of GERB needs time to explain to the public the loss of GERB in two other large Bulgarian cities – Varna and Blagoevgrad. The candidates of the PP-DB won in the local elections in these cities.

(Krassen Nikolov | Euractiv.bg)

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