by gradinski chai
Sun Oct 22nd, 2006 at 09:28:34 AM EST
A generally unenthusiastic electorate will go to the polls today...well perhaps 30-40% of them at least...to start the process of electing the Bulgarian president for the next five years.
Let's use this as a Bulgarian election thread - from the diaries ~ whataboutbob
For any candidate to win in tomorrow's first round, one candidate must win an absolute majority with at least 50% turnout. Since all indications are that turnout will fall well below 50%, we'll be heading to a second round election next weekend.
Like many other East European systems, Bulgaria has a weak presidential system, so whoever wins in the coming elections will not wield a decisive influence over Bulgarian policy processes. Instead, the position exists to meet with foreign officials and to provide a mild veto over parliament. Parliament can override a presidential veto by a simple majority, so the veto is more of an embarrassment or delay than a substantive part of the policy process. The real power is the power of an attentive press and many formal state meetings.
There are only two real candidates in tomorrow's election. These are the ones who are very, very likely to end up in a second round of elections next weekend:
GEORGI PURVANOV (Bulgarian Socialist Party) is the current president. His tenure has been generally uneventful and some would say uninspired. He has admitted to being an informer to the communist regime's internal security services, which has not won him any votes among the center-right of the political spectrum. He does, however, usually make a decent public face for Bulgaria and generally knows how to say the right sort of things for an external audience.
VODIN SIDEROV (Movement ATTAKA) is the far right candidate. He is credited by many Bulgarians with talking honestly about what many see as some of the most pressing problems facing the country. As with any far right candidate, there are the typical scapegoats for why average Bulgarians are having such a hard time...gypsies (Roma about 4-5% of the population)...Turks (about 7% of the population)...Jews and Gays/Lesbians. These groups are the cause of all problems in addition to the European Union and the United States. Siderov has some interesting policy proposals including sending all of the gypsy population to the moon. (No, I'm not kidding...this is really the idea.) Some of you may have read about the ATTAKA European Parliament boytoy observer
who sent an email to some colleagues in the EP about a Hungarian Roma MEP and about Bulgarian gypsies being cheap to buy.
Polls indicate that Siderov will take somewhere between 20-25% of the poll tomorrow. I think that this is a low figure. There is a lot of soft support that is using Siderov as an expression of their frustrations with the ruling elites and ruling parties. I think he could reach 30-35%. Purvanov will reach about 35-40%.
The interesting question is what the traditional center right parties will do in all of this. Their weak candidate will certainly poll third or fourth place, so the question facing them is whether they will do what the French and Romanian political elite did when faced with similar situations (support the left candidate no matter how unpalatable he may be) or what. There are some indications that they may simply sit out the election claiming that they cannot support Purvanov. If this, indeed, is the case (meaning that they ignore the certain pressure from the European People's Party) then next week will make for a very interesting political thriller. We might just have an EU candidate state with a bizarre far right president.
I'll report on the election results as they come in.