Prime Minister Boyko Borissov nominated yesterday (2 October) Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva, an uncharismatic but faithful ally, as candidate in the 6 November presidential elections.
The nomination was made at a conference in Sofia of the ruling party GERB, which according to opinion polls has the largest support of all political forces, followed by the opposition socialists.
Although the presidential post in Bulgaria is essentially ceremonial, Bulgarians vote to elect a head of state and a vice president.
Vice Admiral Plamen Manushev will be the GERB’s candidate for vice president, it was also announced.
Manushev is largely unknown, but commentators say political forces are nowadays eager to put forward candidates with experience from the army. Last August the Socialists nominated General Rumen Radev, the air force chief, as candidate for president.
Incumbent President Rossen Plevneliev has said he will not seek a new five-year term, after parliament rejected his veto of changes to the electoral code in May.
Tsacheva, the first female Parliament Speaker of Bulgaria, will also become the first female President if elected.
“I believe victory will be ours. We will work for the interest of all Bulgarian citizens,” Tsacheva said upon the announcement of her candidacy.
“I won’t open rifts but will build bridges and will stand up for Bulgaria’s national interest,” she added.
The GERB candidacy was unveiled after months of speculation. Most of the main parties in Bulgaria meanwhile raised their own nominations.
Aside from Radev, the other major contenders are Ivailo Kalfin, an economist and former MEP, who runs for a smaller centre-left force, the ABV party of former President Georgi Parvanov, and Krassimir Karakachanov, candidate of two nationalistic parties.
Tsacheva, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev who is a former MEP, and the mayors of Sofia and Burgas, Yordanka Fandakova and Dimitar Nikolov, were tipped as possible candidates.
“No-one could guess our presidential pair,” Borissov told an audience of party members at the National Palace of Culture.
Borissov made clear it would bring him more benefit to run himself, but that would be tantamount to “political desertion”, given the “opportunities and contacts” he has at the moment. Borissov, however, reiterated he would run in the presidential elections that are to come in five years.
Tsacheva, who between 1992 and the mid-2000s pursued a law career, has presided over the National Assembly of Bulgaria two times – in the first cabinet of Boyko Borissov (July 2009 – March 2013) and in the second one (starting 17 October 2014).
She first ran for elections in 2007, when she fought for the Mayor’s seat in Pleven, northern Bulgaria, shortly after quitting as a legal counselor to Pleven municipality.
Tsacheva was formerly a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BKP).
Vice Admiral Plamen Manushev was Deputy Chief of Defense between 2011 and 2012. He has served a the Bulgarian Armed Forces since 1977. At the elections of 2014, he was elected to Parliament on GERB’s ticket.
Recent surveys have shown that despite the uncertainty about the presidential pair’s names, a candidate put forward by GERB could win more than half of all votes regardless of the name.