GERB Dominates the 2015 Bulgarian Local Elections
The common perception that local elections are less important and interesting than national was broken down by the zero sum game of the last Bulgarian local elections on Oct. 25, 2015.
The big plus for the current government in power contrasts to the big minus for the opposition party. The referendum gave an additional spin over the election dynamics this year.
In Blagoevgrad, GERB’s candidate Atanas Kambitov won his second mandate with 57.92 percent. His party also won the majority of seats in the city council. Vladimir Elezov, Associate for Institutional Research at AUBG and a graduate of the university, finished second with 10.47 percent of the votes. Elezov, Gergana Murtova, former AUBG Development Director, and Main Building security guard Elena Dimitrova are among the 41 newly elected city council members.
The second intriguing fact about the 2015 local elections is that conservative GERB reaffirmed its political hegemony. The leading political power in the current coalition government won the majority of votes in 20 out of 27 regional centres in Bulgaria.
GERB’s victory left the main opposition party, the leftist Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), with no mayor seats in the regional centers. The liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) won only in Kurdzhali, where the party has been dominant for decades.
Among the small political parties within the government, the right-wing Reformist Block assured major seats in two of the ten most populated regional centres in Bulgaria – Pleven and Dobrich. The remaining four regions now have mayors and municipalities represented by independent candidates supported by one or several political parties.
This year voters also had the opportunity to choose not only their mayors and city councilors, but also to cast a separate vote for the national referendum. Bulgarian citizens could say “yes” or “no” to the implementation of electronic voting (e-voting) as a tool in future elections.
From the voters, 69.5 percent decided that such a voting procedure should exist. The decision, however, cannot be enforced because not enough voters participated in the referendum. Although, since the voting turnout passed the threshold of 20 percent, the parliament will now have to discuss the implementation of e-voting and make a final decision.