Varna Mayoral Vote to Be Decided in RunoffDomestic | July 1, 2013, Monday // 10:24| views
Varna interim Mayor, Hristo Bozov, is also a former Head of the Navy Hospital in the city with a 25-year career as an army doctor. Photo by BGNES
Hristo Bozov is leading by a narrow margin of 3% in the early mayoral elections in Bulgaria's third-largest city of Varna, on the Black Sea coast.
According to the latest update, Bozov has gathered 30% of the vote, with 100% of the ballots counted and processed Monday morning.
Bozov was an interim mayor and an independent candidate, endorsed by the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and 23 other associations.
Ivan Portnih, who was nominated by the formerly-ruling centrist Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, is second with 26.9%, and independent candidate Chavdar Trifonov, endorsed by the right-wing Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, DSB, and other smaller right-wing formations is third with 17%.
The "permanent" mayoral hopeful, pharmaceutical Varna mogul, Veselin Mareshki, came in fourth with 16%.
The results show that the election will be decided at runoff, which is to be held on Sunday July 7.
The first round was marked by record low voter turnout – only 25% or 74 000 people went to the polls on Sunday, June 30.
The Varna rallies triggered Bulgaria's January and February 2013 protests that led to the resignation of then-PM Boyko Borisov and his GERB Cabinet, and calling of early elections May 12.
They also tragically included a number of fatal self-immolations, many of them due to poverty and personal distress.
Nine candidates ran in Sunday's vote.