Bulgaria's Newest Municipality Voting for Mayor in Runoff
A run-off local vote is taking place in Sarnitsa, a southwestern Bulgarian municipality that was formed as a separate unit this year.
Last Sunday, Sarnitsa held its first-ever local elections, but neither the candidate of the main ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party nor the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) mustered enough support to declare an outright victory for its candidate.
The DPS's Nebi Bozov was on the lead with 45.37 percent, with GERB-backed incumbent mayor Mustafa Alikanov trailing behind at 30.33 percent, according to official estimates that were announced a few days after the elections.
However, the Reformist Bloc (RB), GERB's coalition partner whose candidate took some 22.73% of the vote, pledged to join hands with GERB in the runoff, declaring support for its contender.
Voter turnout was high, at 74.78 percent.
Sarnitsa is an almost entirely Muslim-populated municipality, where unemployment is at a dangerous rate. Even though the region has high tourist potential, conditions on the roads leading into the town of Sarnitsa and the two adjacent villages, which have not been maintained for years, drive off tourists, who fear damaging their cars.
The DPS, for its part, claims to represent the interest of minorities, and mostly the vast population of ethic Turks (though it does not declare itself an "ethnic party").
A correspondent for the Bulgarian National Television reported Sunday morning that the secrecy of the vote might be easily violated during the election. The reason is that ballots only contain two options and when they are cast they often fall unfolded, enabling electoral commission representatives to see which option a voter has picked.
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