Bulgaria's Election Hangover
After Sunday's bizarre cocktail of presidential and local election runoffs in Bulgaria, the nation is slowly waking up to a solemn and inevitable question:
What happened yesterday?
Most notably, Bulgaria elected its next President, Rosen Plevneliev, a prosperous businessman-turned Regional Development Minister and a man who insisted on being "an expert and not a politician" until the ruling centrist-right GERB asked him (or rather forced him) to run.
Unfortunately for Plevneliev, he had the highest approval rating among all GERB ministers – and the party's leader, PM Boyko Borisov, decided to play safe.
During his election campaign, Plevneliev apparently struggled to impersonate a politician, as he mostly parroted vague phrases like "European integration is very important", "we have to improve the economy", etc.
His main opponents, though more experienced in the political field, did no better. Left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party's candidate Ivaylo Kalfin, the country's former EU Commissioner and non-partisan bidder Meglena Kuneva, as well as Plevneliev himself, engaged in painfully hollow debates, often giving the impression they had no idea what kind of office they were running for.
Meanwhile, the local elections across the country went largely unnoticed. The focus on the "glamorous" presidential race conveniently let a disturbing number of local violations slip by, including the infamous vote-buying practice which is already considered a Bulgarian trademark.
Plevneliev seems an intelligent man and will probably learn a thing or two about politics during his 5-year term in office. One question remains: when will Bulgaria learn to carry out proper democratic elections?