Bulgaria's Presidential Hopefuls: The Low-Profile Candidates (Part 3)
There are as many as twenty-one presidential pairs running the forthcoming elections in Bulgaria, all competing to take over the office of President. While a head of state does not enjoy too many powers, but virtually serving as a broker between institutions and a key stakeholder in shaping the country's agenda and vision, being able to call consultations, veto bills, and make key appointments.
Novinite has so far given detailed information only about six of the candidates - those either considered front-runners or being somewhat linked to the governing coalition (Tsetska Tsacheva, Rumen Radev, Krasimir Karakachanov, Ivaylo Kalfin, Traycho Traykov, Tatyana Doncheva). We have also adhered to data from the first poll published in October which gave an edge to those candidates.
Going down the list, the apparent "losers" should not be underestimated, though, as many of them are either being suspected as puppets of other parties that will "drain" votes in the first round or - what is worse - have openly indicated they will not be voting for themselves. Others have a background that could easily raise eyebrows. Another group had their names entangled in a scam with the so-called "media packages" handed out to them for their campaign, even though the election watchdog of Bulgaria denies the affair took place.
In the third part of our series about the non-traditional presidential candidates, the list is completed with several candidates who have never stood out for too high political ambitions or active positions in the national public space.
Rumen Galabinov, an economist, and lawyer Veska Voleva (his running mate) were the first presidential pair to submit its documents. The two have kept a low profile over the years and are now calling for Bulgaria's tighter allegiance to NATO and the EU, a more active effort toward judicial reforms, and a crackdown on corruption. Additionally, a debate is needed in Parliament on a number of economic issues, and it is the President's job to trigger it, Galabinov believes. He and Voleva are running as independents. Voleva has defended a number of clients suing lending institutions and, in a recent interview, has said any candidate other than that of GERB, the main ruling party, is worth endorsing in the runoff vote.
Plamen Paskov, a Bulgarian entrepreneur who studied Veterinary Medicine and nowadays runs a business that involves software used in the same field, is running as an independent candidate. His Russian-registered company (Russian clinics being his main clients) are one of the two things he is known for, the second one being his unsuccessful bid to run for Mayor of the town of Dimitrovgra last year. Backed by nationalist Ataka party, he garnered just 1.55% of the vote. Svetozar Saev, his running mate, is also an entrepreneur and an activist backing the application of the Modern Monetary Theory. Paskov is often sought by Russian media outlets as a political commentator on affairs in Bulgaria, Russia, and the United States.
Diana Dimitrova, also an indepenent candidate, was a member of Novoto Vreme, a party founded by several public figures back in the mid-2000s. She studied English Language and teaches it nowadays, having worked for the universty of Veliko Tarnovo and schools in the towns of Vidin and Smolyan. Her running mate, Gabriel Gerasimov, is an entrepreneur who tried to make it into Parliament in 2014. He was formerly affiliated to the State Security.
Gospodin Tonev is a former lawmaker (1997-1998) and was a member of the Union for Democratic Forces (UDF)'s leadership for much of the 2000s. He now shares Christian Democrat views and gives lectures on the issue of a "social market economy". His running mate, Andrey Andreev, is a musicologist who heads the Philharmonic Orchestra of Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second-largest city, and several other institutions. He was also a lawmaker in a Great National Assembly in the 1990s and became one of the few MPs who than refused to sign the new constitution.
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