The main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party nominated the former air force chief as their candidate in the presidential elections. The main opposition party voted to endorse General Rumen Radev, 53, after he tendered his resignation as commander of the air force. The party has chosen the former chief commander among 8 potential candidates.In Bulgaria, the president has largely ceremonial power. The recent decision of BSP of nominating the General Rudev is not a party program. The reason of this decision is as air chief commander he is quite well regarded in the country. Besides this until very recently he was regarded as the best fighter pilot in the country. This will no doubt attracted younger voters that would never vote for the socialist party.
The Socialist party lost remarkable votes after when the former president Purvanov cut his ties with BSP and established his own party, Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV). He got quite some votes that would normally go to the socialist party, some 4.5% at last parliament elections.
BSP sees itself as the successor of the former communist party. Recently the party leadership visited the birthplace of the great communist leader Zhivkov, their annual gathering is at a big communist monument. At the same time they are indeed much more pro-Russia than any other party. Some say it has to do with business interest and Russian oligarchy. But for sure it is also because of their electorate, that are mainly older people who feel they were better off during communism, when the country had close ties with Soviet Russia.
Kornelia Ninova, the first female leader in the BSP’s125-yearhistory,won395votesfromdelegatesattheparty’scongress, on 8 May 2016. She recently paid visit to Moscow and attended 15th congress of United Russia which is current ruling and Putin' former party.The senior fellow at the Bulgarian think-tank Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), Dr. Emil Tsenkov told the Diplomatic Observer, BSP has a trust issue with Bulgarian society. Dr. Tsenkov said" Radev' nomination is due to the lack of trust in socialist politicians both among BSP membership and in the society at large. Radev did not position himself as a leftwing political figure - rather he appeals to a public longing for integrity and non-partisanship as necessary pre-conditions for the presidential post. A military background is viewed as an advantage for this largely ceremonial position as the president nominally is the supreme commander-in-chief.In another development Ninova, who is not terribly popular among the socialist rank and file, visited Russia in a move to renew with his party' traditional "pro-Russian" image. The visit did not influence Russian-Bulgarian relations, which remain frosty, nor did it lead to closer interaction between the BSP and Putin' party.Ali Faruk Ýmre

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