Bulgarian Court Rejects Move to Annul Presidential Poll Result

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court rejected an opposition Socialist Party request to annul a presidential election victory by the ruling Gerb party’s candidate in an Oct. 31 runoff.

The Sofia-based court threw out the motion on the grounds of “unsubstantiated evidence,” it said on its website today. The request, the first in recent Bulgarian history, was backed by 71 opposition lawmakers from the Socialists, the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the nationalist Attack party.

Rosen Plevneliev, a 47-year-old former development minister, won 52.58 percent of the vote, according to the Central Election Committee in Sofia. Ivailo Kalfin, who ran on the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s ticket, had 47.42 percent. Plevneliev will take office on Jan. 21, when the term of outgoing President Georgi Parvanov ends.

The European Union’s poorest nation on a per capita basis is struggling to boost economic growth, combat corruption and weather the euro area’s sovereign-debt crisis. The election was “a vote of confidence” before 2013 parliamentary polls, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said the day of the balloting. His Gerb party won the most city council seats nationwide, including in the capital, Sofia, in municipal elections held on the same day.

The 18-page list of violations presented to the court a month ago included accusations that thousands of people who’ve lived abroad and returned to Bulgaria were excluded from voter lists, that votes were bought and that Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov took a one-month leave to act as the chief of Gerb’s election staff.

Election Marred

The election was marred by threats of firing people if they didn’t support a given candidate in small towns and villages, according to the Bulgarian arm of Transparency International.

The combination of presidential and city council elections delayed the voting process, causing irregularities and violations at many polling stations, Transparency International said on Nov. 1.

Diana Kovacheva, who headed the Bulgarian unit of Transparency International, was appointed Justice Minister on Nov. 30 to replace Margarita Popova, who was elected Plevneliev’s vice president.

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