Can Sofiyanski Retake Sofia?Editorial |Author: Ivan Dikov | June 6, 2011, Monday // 18:15| views
He is back in the game. Stefan Sofiyanski, the long-serving former mayor of the Bulgarian capital Sofia with a happily Sofia-like sounding name, has announced his bid for the local elections in the fall of 2011.
Sofiyanski's rise to prominence, especially in 1995-2005, when he was Mayor of Sofia, started with his big and sincere smile as one of the emblematic faces of the Union of Democratic Forces, the major rightist pro-Western party in Bulgaria in the 1990s, and "ended", at least temporarily, with his name discredited by corruption allegations: in 2004-2008, he was acquitted in three corruption trials.
While baling out of the mayor seat in 2005 in the middle of his term to become a Member of Parliament – in order to enjoy immunity, if you are to believe his critics – Sofiyanski remains the person who was elected Sofia Mayor three times. He is highly recognizable, more so than any other known or likely Sofia Mayor candidate, and he probably has sufficient resources to back his run having pooled together a "coalition of the willing" marginal right-wing parties. It was a big, though publicly neglected question mark in Bulgaria if he would run.
For the time being, Sofiyanski remains discredited in the eyes of the public and his chances seem low. But given the questionable performance of Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, elected in 2009 on a ticket of "being the candidate of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov", and given the right, i.e. "wrong" candidates on part of the other parties, with the right campaign Sofiyanski could make a comeback. Staring a run means that Sofiyanski himself has sufficient confidence that he can pull it off.
So watch out for Sofiyanski and don't be quick to dismiss him.