Bulgaria Socialists Willing to Run Together with Left-Wingers in Presidential VoteDomestic | July 5, 2016, Tuesday // 17:25| views
A ballot paper for the Bulgarian Socialist Party's internal referendum on the forthcoming presidential elections. BGNES
A majority of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) members are keen on a joint presidential candidacy with ABV, a splinter-off party of Georgi Parvanov who is a former BSP leader, an internal referendum has shown.
The BSP has held a poll among its members in which 72 382 have voted, 52% (or 37 596) of them saying the two parties should run jointly.
Turnout involved nearly two-thirds of the party which had slightly over 100 000 members as of June 2016 (its predecessor, the Bulgarian Communisty Party, had around one million under the one-party system).
The referendum did not include questions on names and profiles of possible presidential candidates, Korneliya Ninova, the recently elected BSP leader, has said.
However, she has ruled out that the electorate could endorse Georgi Parvanov or his deputy Ivaylo Kalfin (who until recently was Labor Minister), without elaborating.
ABV has reacted to her comments, with the party's press office announcing that possible talks with the BSP are "doomed to fail" if Parvanov and Kalfin are immediately ruled out.
"We are happy that after two years the BSP is ready for a conversation after all, but categorically refuse that these talks could have strings attached," Focus News Agency quotes ABV's press office as saying and calling on the BSP to agree to a dialogue that puts the two parties on equal footing.
It was Ninova who initiated the referendum upon her election to the office, saying the BSP could begin talks with ABV if the members show support for the move.
Relations between Parvanov (who served as Bulgaria's President in 2002-2012) and the BSP turned sour after he announced he would launch his own ticket for the European Parliament elections in 2014 which would be different from the one of the socialists. At the time, Parvanov was still a BSP member.
Unlike the BSP, which has been in opposition since the autumn of 2014, Parvanov's ABV party was part of the government until May, when it quit the ruling coalition.
Candidates for the presidential vote have to be announced by August 31 at the latest, according to BSP members' preference, Ninova has made clear. The election itself is expected to be held at the end of October.
No major party has announced or thrown its support behind a candidate, in a country which has a parliamentary system but whose President has more than ceremonial functions.