DPS-Backed Mayor Candidate 'Wins' Vote in Bulgaria's Newest Municipality
Nebi Bozov, supported by the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party has claimed victory in the first-ever elections of Sarnitsa, the newest administrative unit in Bulgaria.
Officials have confirmed, warning their data is not yet final, but results are unlikely to change much.
Asked whether he has any information about the results shortly after polls closed, Bozov told the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) he "has unofficial information" of having secured a clear lead, with 60 percent support.
Conservative GERB, the senior partner in Bulgaria's governing coalition, is reportedly at 40 percent, in the words of Bozov.
Mustafa Alikanov was backed by GERB, but also by their junior partners from the Reformist Bloc (RB), whose candidate came third in the first round held last Sunday.
A local municipal official later told private national NOVA TV channel that as vote count suggested Bozov had 1867 ballots in his favor, compared to 1299 for Alikanov, and there would be "no substantial difference" in the results.
Bozov will have to be Sarnitsa Mayor for the next six months in "cohabitation" with a municipal council dominated by GERB and the Reformist Bloc. The latter portrays itself as a staunch enemy to the DPS's positions in both central and local administrations.
Sunday's elections marked by high turnout, with more than 76 percent of eligible voters having cast a ballot.
Violations were reported at some polling stations, with electoral committee members reportedly being able to find out the voter's preference and thus breaching the right to secrecy of the vote.
No official comments have so far been produced.
Sarnitsa, the newest municipality in Bulgaria lying in the country's south-west, "broke away" from Velingrad on January 1, 2015, with residents convinced they would be better off if allowed to be in charge of their own affairs. The population there is predominantly Muslim.
Early elections, which were forced by the municipality's separation, are though to be a "rehearsal" for local elections due to be held nationwide this autumn.
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