Korneliya Ninova Also in Bulgarian Socialist Party Chairperson Race
Lawmaker Korneliya Ninova has said she is to place her bid for the presidency of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).
The senior partner in Bulgaria's government (which is to resign later in July) is to choose its next leader after Sergey Stanishev, who has headed the party since 2000, announced he would step down.
She has become the second woman to do so after Parliament's Deputy Speaker Maya Manolova confirmed she would accept the nomination from her party.
Earlier, the MP maintained she would not seek to run.
On Sunday, however, she cited the decision of Stanishev to resign, something she had previously been "sure" could not happen, and also the fact she had been nominated by party structures, as reasons why she changed her intentions.
"I, Korneliya Ninova, if elected Chair of the [Bulgarian] Socialist Party, will turn the BSP into a first political power, regardless of who its opponent is," website Dariknews.bg quoted her as saying.
In her view, the BSP should undergo organizational changes granting more rights to local structures, and vowed to restate "ideological purity" and "the categorical left essence" of the party if she takes the post.
Ninova added that she believed the battle for the presidency would an "honest" one.
For a long time, and especially as the socialists were in opposition, Ninova was among the most outspoken critics of moves by center-right GERB government (2009-2003).
Other candidates to take over from Sergey Stanishev include Economy and Energy Minister (and BSP Deputy Chair since July 5) Dragomir Stoynev and Parliament Speaker Mihail Mikov.
Stoynev, described by some as "the next Stanishev", is reported to be his most likely successor, a view shared by some party officials.
Other sources suggest Defense Minister Angel Naydenov might also seek election to the post, but he has so far refuted such claims.
The names of MEP Iliana Iotova, renowned actor and Culture Minister (2005-2009) Stefan Danailov and key party members such as Yanaki Stoilov are also frequently mentioned as potential candidates to take the position on the party's upcoming Congress on July 27.
Stanishev came under huge pressure to step down after a catastrophic loss of his party at May 25's European Elections, when its results neared those of its junior partner, liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS).
Citing the BSP's low performance, DPS Chairman Lyutvi Mestan triggered a split within the ruling coalition by declaring the government could not make its full term in office.