Bulgaria's Battle for Mayors, Round 1 - Who? Where? How?
Following is a list of the top runners, who joined the battle for the mayoral post in Bulgaria's major cities on September 23. A total of 173 out of 264 Bulgarian municipalities will elect their mayors in a second round on October 30, including Plovdiv, Varna, Smolyan, Pleven, as none of the candidates got 50% of the votes in the first round.
Sofia Candidates for Mayor
Yordanka Fandakova - the candidate of the ruling GERB party in the Sofia Mayor Elections scheduled for October 23, 2011. She will make an attempt to win a second term in office after gaining the support of the majority of Sofia citizens two years ago.
Fandakova was born in the southwest Bulgarian town of Samokov in 1962. She graduated from the Russian language high school in Sofia, and later obtained a degree in Russian language from Sofia University.
In 1985-1998, she was a teacher at the 73rd high school in Sofia, "Vladislav Gramatik"
In 1998-2005, she was the principal of the same school.
In 2005, after the election of Boyko Borisov as Sofia Mayor, Fandakova became Deputy Mayor of Sofia in charge of education, youth, culture, and science.
Fandakova was elected Member of the Bulgarian Parliament from the GERB party in the July 2009 Parliamentary Elections.
Bulgaria's current Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, selected her as the Minister of Education, and she was sworn in office together with the GERB party government on July 27, 2009.
Fandakova was elected the new Mayor of Sofia after receiving 66% of the votes in a run-off, which was held on November 15, 2009.
Her rival - the candidate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Georgi Kadiev – garnered 27,71% of the votes.
Thus Fandakova went down in history as the first woman to ever become Mayor of the Bulgarian capital. She was the candidate of the ruling GERB party and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, but was also supported by the nationalist Ataka party and the rightist Blue Coalition.
Fandakova has recently admitted she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, but has managed to win the tough battle while trying to find solutions of the capital's gravest problems.
Georgi Kadiev - Bulgaria's Socialist Party candidate for mayor of the capital Sofia.
Kadiev, 45, was born in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Burgas in 1966. He graduated from the German-language high school in Burgas.
Kadiev earned his graduate degree in international relations the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, specializing on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
He has also received a Master's in diplomacy from Lester University, UK, and a Master's in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Kadiev has worked at the Harvard Institute of International Development, and has been Director of Internet Securities Bulgaria, and a member of the Board of Directors of Internet Securities Inc, Euromoney Holdings Plc. He has also worked as a journalist at the Bulgarian 24 Chasa Daily.
In 2005-2007, he was Bulgaria's Deputy Minister of Finance in the government of Sergey Stanishev (2005-2009). Since 2007, Kadiev has been a city councilor in Sofia. He has been a member of the National Council of Bulgarian Socialist Party since 2005.
Georgi Kadiev is popularly known as the "red yuppie", red being the color of the Bulgarian Socialist Party. He is fluent in English, German, Russian, and Polish.
He has repeatedly said he is ready to run for Sofia mayor again after failing to win in the previous elections in 2009.
Proshko Proshkov - the right-wing Blue Coalition candidate for mayor of the capital Sofia.
Proshko Proshkov was born on 31 August 1974 in Sofia. Graduated the Technical University in automatics and system engineering. Worked four years in Germany on industrial software development projects and on railway traffic modelling and optimisation for the German Railways.
Proshko Proshkov is one of the founders of the die-hard right-wing DSB party. Mayor of the "Lozenets" District since November 2007 following a second ballot against GERB candidate and former National Radio Dorector Polya Stancheva.
In May 2011 he won the primary elections within DSB, and in June – the primaries of the Blue Coalition and became the Blue Coalition Sofia city mayor-candidate.
Nikolay Pehlivanov - the nationalist Ataka party candidate for mayor of the capital Sofia.
Nikolay Pehlivanov was born March 5, 1972, in the coastal town of Burgas.
In 2004, at the beginning of his career as a private entrepreneur, he founded investment company "Greenlife" that has developped projects in Bansko, Pamporovo, Sofia.
The company is a leader in the construction of recreational facilities with clients from Russia, Britain, Scandinavia, Poland, Spain and Greece.
Pehlivanov was named "Construction Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2008.
An engineer, who has specialized in industrial and civil engineering, he entered Bulgaria's political life in 2009 when he was elected Member of Parliament on the ticket of the nationalist Ataka party in Sofia region.
Currently he is member of Ataka party parliamentary group and serves as Deputy Chairman of the Regional Policy and Local Self-government Commission at the National Assembly of Bulgaria.
Among his other occupations are: Deputy Chairman of the ad hoc committee for investigation of expenses, appointments and deals, carried out during the term of the previous Socialist-led government.
He is also a member of the friendship groups of 'Bulgaria – Great Britain', 'Bulgaria – Vietnam', 'Bulgaria – Indonesia' (chairman) and 'Bulgaria – Italy'.
Vladimir Karolev - candidate for Sofia Mayor of the National Movement for Stability and Prosperity (NMSP), the political party of Bulgaria's former tsar and former prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg.
Karolev was born in Varna in 1961. He is a graduate of the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. In 1993, he earned a MBA from the University of Alberta, Canada.
A publicly known economist, he has worked as a consultant of a number of foreign companies in Bulgaria, and has been an integral part of NMSP's economic team since the party swept Bulgarian politics in the 2001 parliamentary elections. Karolev has also served as a Sofia city councilor.
Since 1993 Karolev has occupied top management positions at Balkan Advisory Company, Bulgarian Stock Exchange, ECM-Bulgarian Post Privatization Fund, Europa Capital Management, Barents Group of KPMG Consulting.
He is experienced in privatization advisory, mergers & acquisitions, project management, business development and project finance, government level negotiations, private equity management.
At the moment he is CEO and co-owner of the Balkan Advisory Company, which provides all major services of corporate finance/project finance/capital markets, foreign investments.
Karolev has been teaching Investment Management since 1998 in City University of Seattle.
Speaks English and Russian.
Plovdiv Candidates for Mayor
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. It is located in southern Bulgaria on the two banks of the Maritsa River. Seventeen candidates will vie for the mayoral post in the city, most of whom failed runners from previous elections. The top candidates are:
Slavcho Atanasov – incumbent mayor, who seeks re-election. He was nominated by the alternative nationalist part VMRO-NIE and will be supported by the centrist right-wing United Democratic Forces, the United Agrarians.
Ivan Totev – the current District Governor of Plovdiv, nominated for Plovdiv mayor by Bulgaria's ruling center-right party GERB
Vladimir Donchev – nominated by "Civil Network for Modern Plovdiv" coalition
Danny Kanazireva - nominated by "Union of Plovdiv" party
Georgi Tarnovaliyski – nominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party
Kiril Kirilov – nominated by the conservative Order, Law and Justice (RZS) party
Ilko Nikolov – nominated by the right-wing Blue Coalition – Plovdiv
Petya Raeva – nominated by the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms
Russi Panchev – nominated by the nationalist Ataka party
Varna Candidates for Mayor
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Commonly referred to as the marine (or summer) capital of Bulgaria, Varna is a major tourist destination, business and university centre and a seaport.
A total of thirty-seven parties, coalitions and initiative committees have registered to participate in the mayoral election in Varna. Being one of Bulgaria's richest and biggest municipalities, Varna resembled a battlefield during the stormy pre-election campaigns.
The top candidates for the mayoral post in the coastal city are:
Kiril Yordanov – incumbent mayor, seeking fourth term as Varna mayor. He has been endorsed by the country's ruling centrist-right GERB's runner in the local elections on October 23. Yordanov stepped into his first term as mayor of the biggest coastal town in Bulgaria in 1999. During the previous local elections in 2007, he won the race for mayor in the first round after garnering the support of 53.42% of the voters at a turnout of 45.02%.
Borislav Gutsanov - former chair of Varna municipal council and member of the Executive Board of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, who hit the headlines last year after his arrest in a high-profile police operation on embezzlement allegations. He has been nominated for mayor of the summer capital by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and will also top the party's list of municipal councilors.
Vesselin Mareshki – a controversial Bulgarian businessman, founder and owner of the eponymous large low-cost drug store chain. Mareshki was nominated by an initiative committee. His name was linked to allegations of vote buying during the local elections two years ago, when he also ran for mayor of Varna. Back then he handed out banknotes of BGN 100 to teachers who had walked off the job in protest against small wages. The businessman had promised them more money in case he become elected, which he failed to do. Police searched his offices.
Dimo Stoev - nominated by the conservative Order, Law and Justice (RZS)
Dobromir Dzhikov – nominated by "Bulgarian Party Liberals"
Kostadin Kostadinov – nominated by Varna Tomorrow coalition
Burgas Candidates for Mayor
Burgas is the second-largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast with a population of 197,301 inhabitants according to Census 2011. It is also the fourth-largest by population in Bulgaria, after Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. Burgas is an important industrial, transport, cultural and tourist hub.
The top candidates for the mayoral post in the coastal city are:
Dimitar Nikolov – incumbent mayor, who seeks re-elected on the ticket of the ruling GERB party of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Two years ago Nikolov secured his victory in the mayoral race after winning a run-off against Valeri Simeonov, nominated by nationalists Ataka. Nikolov, who was also backed by a wide coalition of other rightist parties, came close to winning as early as in the first round with 42,7% of the vote. At the run-off he managed to garner 65,3% of the ballots. An economist by profession, he worked from 1998 to 2006 as executive director of the "Pobeda" AD, a leading confectionery company, involved in the production of biscuits, croissants, mini-cakes and candies.
Pavel Marinov – nominated for mayor by the Bulgarian Socialist Party. He was born in 1964 in Burgas. He graduated from technical marine school in Burgas. In 1990 he graduated as a lawyer. Worked at Burgas dockyard, Radomir complex, Bulgargaz, Sliteks. In the period 2006-2007 he was adviser to the Minister of Transport. Participated as a founder of the Institute for Public-Private Partnership and the National Council on High Technologies and the Institute for regional strategies in Burgas. Initiator of the project of national importance "Intermodal Terminal - public access zone Burgas" and executive director of the project company "Public access zone Burgas".
Vaklin Stoynovski – nominated by "Burgas" party. Stoynovski was born on June 26, 1968 in Burgas. He has a university degree in economics and finance. His political career began after the local elections in 2007, when he was elected municipal councilor.
Smolyan Candidates for Mayor
Smolyan is a town and ski resort in the very south of Bulgaria not far from the border with Greece. As of February 2011, it has a population of 30,283 inhabitants. Seven candidates will vie for the mayoral post in the town, a traditional stronghold of the Socialist Party:
Dora Yankova - Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), incumbent mayor, who will seek re-election
Pavel Petrov – conservative Order, Law and Justice (RZS) party
Nikolay Melemov - center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party
Boyko Mladenov – ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms
Dimitar Trendafilov – LIDER party of energy tycoon Hristo Kovachki
Zarko Marinov – right-wing Blue Coalition
Kostadin Vasilev – "Together for Smolyan" coalition
Pleven Candidates for Mayor
Pleven, located in Northern Bulgaria, is the seventh most populous city in the country. It is the third largest city in Northern Bulgaria after Varna and Russe.
Nayden Zelenogorski – nominated by Bulgarian New Democracy, He is one of the very few right-wing politicians to have tasted the joy of re-election and will run in October for his fourth term as mayor of Pleven. Zelenogorski, who was backed by a broad coalition of right-wing parties in the local elections in October 2007, won confidently with 57% of the votes in the first round. This was the third time that Nayden Zelenogorski came out as winner in local elections, but the first time that he secured his victory right away. The Socialists, whose candidate managed to make it to the run-offs, said the election was marred by vote-buying and challenged in court Zelenogorski's re-election, but with no success. Nayden Zelenogorski was born on September 2, 1961. He was named by the Institute for biographical categorizations to IBC Cambridge, UK, "Statesman of 2002" and "Statesman of 2007". Doctor of Management honoris causa of the IBC Cambridge, UK. Two-term member of the delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Member of the Bulgarian delegation to the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. Chairman of the Association of Bulgarian cities and regions.
Lyubomir Petkov – nominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party. Petkov was born on 06.06.1976 at the town of Pleven. Married with two children. He holds a Master Degree in Bulgarian philology and history, as well as Master Degree in International Business and Management. Specialized political management in the Bulgarian School of Politics and Journalism at the Center for Media Development. Speaks German and English. He served as chairman of the Socialist Party Municipal Council n Pleven and the Group of councilors from BSP - Pleven. Worked as a journalist at Darik radio. He is currently chief expert "Organization and coordination of the political activity" in the National Assembly of the Socialist Party.
Dimitar Stoykov – nominated by the ruling center-right GERB party. He was born in 1959. In 1985 graduated in "Medicine" at Medical University - Pleven. He is currently CEO of the University Hospital "Dr. Georgi Stranski" in Pleven and Dean of the Faculty "Health Care" at the Medical University in Pleven. If elected a mayor he vows to turn to town of Pleven into an attractive place for business and investment, offering opportunities for successful professioanl realization of the young people in a green and clean city with modern, accessible and safe environment. He wants to revive the town's glory as a tourist destination with preserved cultural, historical and natural heritage.
Kardzhali Candidates for Mayor
Kardzhali is a town located in the low eastern part of Rhodope Mountains. Its population – which numbers 42,744 residents according to a 2011 census – is made up predominantly of ethnic Turks.
Following are the main contenders for the mayoral post in the town this year:
Hassan Azis – incumbent mayor, nominated by the ethnic Movement for Rights and Freedoms, seeking re-election for his third term. Split vote expectedly paved the way for the re-election of the incumbent ethnic Turkish mayor in the southern town of Kardzhali in 2007. Hassan Azis, backed by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, garnered 56,3 % of the votes. Hassan Azis' bid for a second term was challenged by three candidates, who set out on a crusade to topple the hegemony of the ethnic Turkish party. Nikola Pashinov, who joined the race on the ticket of the Association for Kardzhali, set up in September 2007 with the goal to topple the ethnic Turkish mayor of the town, ranked second with 36,1% of the votes. Third came in the candidate of GERB party, businessman Stefan Chanev (6%), followed by Agor Uzunbohosyan (1.2%), who was supported by the right-wing hard-liners from Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, the Union of Free Democrats and the Democratic Party. Analysts commented that the number of candidates scattered the votes against the ethnic Turkish party and made his re-election easier.
Milko Bagdasarov – nominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). He was born on October 21, 1958 in Plovdiv. Holds Master Degree in Informatics, Law, Business Administration, Accounting and Control. Chairman of the Regional Council of the BSP in Kardzhali. Member of the Municipal Council in the town.
Ilia Iliev – nominated by the ruling center-right GERB party. Iliev was born on March 25, 1969. He has been developing his own business since 2002.