site.btaExperts Analyse Leaders and Leadership as Factors in Election Results
The Senator Club Saturday organized a discussion on the outcome of Bulgaria's local elections held on October 28 and November 5 and the role of leaders and leadership. Following is a takeaway from some of the participants:
Senator Club Chairman Zahary Zhelyazkov: Voters have been going to the polls convinced that their vote is meaningless, which may account for the low turnout. There is a crisis of political representation. Perhaps the main parties, and especially their leaders, have an interest in alienating voters, so that only the hard-core supporters vote. The major parties do not have clearly defined ideologies, they rely on recriminations and sharp confrontation.
Senator Club's Svetlana Dyankova: Voters showed that, first, they are not looking for leaders but for an individual who will do the job at hand; and second, voters do not like the ruling coalition but prefer it to any other option. New political projects are gathering speed at the expense of mainstream parties, which are down to their hard-core supporters.
Sociologist Yuliy Pavlov: Voter turnout has been falling steadily in Bulgaria. It slumped from 51% to 42% in 2021 with the introduction of mandatory machine voting. In the local elections, GERB again placed first, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms came out second, and Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria saw a tangible drop in support compared to the parliamentary elections in April, mostly due to the lack of local chapters.
Political psychologist Antoaneta Hristova: Political parties in Bulgaria are in decline in terms of presence, authority and prospects because the meaning of politics through parties has largely been lost to the public. Put together, the small parties and their candidates garnered the largest support. The share of voters who chose the "None Of The Above" option soared. The local elections showed that parties are unable to nominate successful candidates and to conduct an adequate election campaign for their nominees. Many people did not recognize the candidates. Most people who cast their votes in the local elections saw political confrontation as the point of voting.
Analyst Dimitar Ivanov: These were one of the worst elections in 34 years of democratic development - in terms of the participants' performance, media coverage and voting procedure. Instead of being a competition among parties, this was an exercise in nominating eccentric candidates, as was the case in Sofia with businessman Vassil Terziev, journalist Anton Hekimyan and union activist Vanya Grigorova. This election was a demonstration of a liberalization of the political climate in Bulgaria, whose ending is unpredictable.