Incumbents Stay in Office in Bulgaria's Major Towns

Politics | November 3, 2003, Monday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0

Bulgarians headed to the polls on Sunday to cast their ballot in a runoff vote in the fourth local elections since the fall of communism in 1989. Polls opened at 7 am local time and closed at 7 pm local time, with 6 953 849 people eligible to vote.

Mayors were elected at the run-offs in a total of 189 of the country's 263 municipalities and 1322 mayoralties. Mayoral runoffs were underway in 21 of a total of 27 regional capitals.

A total of 121 of the candidates that took part in the run-offs in Bulgaria were running on the ticket of the Socialists Party, 30 were supported by the rightist Union of Democratic Forces, 24 by the predominantly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), and 17 by Bulgaria's ruling Simeon II National Movement.

In 11 Bulgarian municipalities people had to elect between 3 candidates at the run-off as the second and the third garnered the same number of votes. The candidate who garner the biggest part of the votes cast during the run-off is elected mayor.

In Bulgaria's second biggest city of Plovdiv the rightist candidate Dr Ivan Chomakov garnered 54% of the votes, an exit poll of Gallup agency shows minutes after the polls in Bulgaria closed. Chomakov faced socialist Zahari Georgiev in the run-off on November 2. Chomakov garnered 35% in the first round of the elections while Georgiev managed to gather 28% of the votes cast in Plovdiv.

Independent candidate Yoan Kostadinov ousted Ivan Vitanov, nominated by Bulgaria's ruling Simeon II National Movement (SIINM), in the run-off mayoral poll in Bulgaria's second coastal city of Burgas, according to final results of the parallel counting. They showed that Kostadinov was backed by 60.9% of the people who voted in Burgas. Kostadinov had already taken the lead in the elections' first round. However, he didn't manage to garner the required 51% of the votes and had to face his main rival once again in the run-off.

Current mayor of the Danube town of Vidin Ivan Tsenov, nominated by rightist Union of democratic Forces (UDF), is staying in office for a second mandate, according to exit poll results. They showed that Tsenov garnered some 57% of the votes cast in the Danube town. At the elections' first round a week ago Tsenov swept 39.58% against Todorov's 33.27%.

In the northern city of Pleven incumbent mayor of Nayden Zelenogorski, who runs on the ticket of the right-wing Union of Democractic Forces, was re-elected for a second mandate. Final results from the parallel counting of the votes by Gallup International showed that he garnered 63.3% in Sunday's run-off poll. Socialist candidate Hristofor Dochev comes second, after rightist Zelenogorski had already emerged as a leader in the mayoral poll's first round. On October 26 he garnered some 46.8% of the votes, leaving Dochev at second position with 32.5%.

The candidates of the Bulgarian Socialist Party won the second-round battles in the town of Gabrovo in the Balkan Range, and Smolyan.

In Gabrovo the present mayor from the Socialist Party Bogomil Belchev gained a lead with 58%. In the first round he gained a considerable lead of 48.25% over Miroslav Semov (30.9%) from the Union of Democratic Forces.

Bulgaria's legendary football player and mayor candidate in his hometown of Sliven Yordan Lechkov won the run-off poll against leftist candidate Ivan Slavov. Data show that Lechkov garnered some 51.01% of the votes against 48.99% for current left-wing mayor Ivan Slavov. At the first round that took place October 26 Lechkov ranked second with some 20.62 % of the votes, while Slavov emerged first with some 29.99 %.

I owe this victory partly to the support I received from ruling Simeon II National Movement (SIINM), rightist Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) and the Agrarian Party, Lechkov told the Bulgarian National Television minutes after exit poll results were published.

Lechkov was part of Bulgaria's national football team that sensationally made it to the fourth position in the 1994 World Championship. Lechkov scored a crucial second goal for Bulgaria in a match against Germany's national team, leading Bulgaria to a legendary 2-1 victory. He has also played at Hamburger (Germany), Besiktas (Istanbul) and Olympique Marseille.

Bulgaria's ruling coalition forged by Simeon II National Movement (SIINM) and the Movement for Rights and Freedom (MRF) swept the mayor post in the town of Kyustendil locate some 88 kilometers south of capital Sofia, leader of the MRF Ahmed Dogan said late on Sunday evening.

This makes victories in only two district centers - the other one the town of Dobrich - for the ruling coalition.

The number of MRF-nominated municipal councilors, however, is quite high, Dogan underlined. He insisted that the current period in the Movement's developement was dominated by an upward trend.

The average election turnout at the Sunday run-off election in Bulgaria was 38.65 %, the Central Electoral Commission said. Data received at 7 p.m. local time among the regional capitals highest was the turnout in Smolyan - 57 %, Targovishte - 54.7 % and Silistra - 50.1 %.

In Sofia City and Sofia Region turnout was 42.5 % and 39.8 % respectively.
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