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Bulgaria's ex anti-crime boss elected Sofia mayor

Date: 07.11.2005

Independent candidate Boyko Borissov wins convincingly Sofia mayor runoff elections after an expected defeat over socialist Tatyana Doncheva, early official results show.

Bulgaria's former anti-crime boss Boyko Borissov has garnered 68,2% of the votes cast on Saturday, leaving behind his lady rival with 31,8%, the Election Commission said.

Turnout hit a record low at 30,41%, slightly down by the figure from the first round of the local elections (33%).

This is the first time that a non-right-wing mayor will take the reins of Sofia since the collapse of the communist regime fifteen years ago.

The two candidates battled to lead in the next year and a half a city with a garbage crisis, bumpy roads, stray dogs and allegations of rampant corruption in the municipality.

Boyko Borrisov and Tatyana Doncheva headed for the runoff after none of the fifteen candidates for Sofia mayor managed to gather 50% majority and win an outright victory in the first round on October 29.

Now the difference between Borissov and Doncheva - who garnered 38% and 23% respectively in the first round of the elections - has increased.

Right after the results from the first round of the elections became known, failed candidate of the king's party Milen Velchev vowed his support to the independent candidate Boyko Borissov. Reports said the leader of Simeon II National Movement Saxe-Coburg had earlier advised the party to back Borissov in the run-off elections.

Three more political formations voiced support for Boyko Borissov after the first round of Sofia election - rightist organization Gergyovden, the party of former Sofia mayor Stefan Sofianski the Union of the Free Democtras, and by implication the right-wingers from the Union of the Democratic Forces, who openly opposed a leftist Sofia mayor.

Analysts have considered Borissov a sure bet to win the second round of the election, a run for higher office not being ruled out. The general however has persistently evaded questions on plans to set up a new party and get involved in the country's presidential elections, due next year.

Sofia newly elected mayor Boyko Borissov may become the face of a new right-wing coalition, pollsters said. The victory of the independent candidate, which shied from identifying with the left-wing or right-wing spectrum, only gave ground to the experts' forecasts.

Over the last several years the former top anti-crime boss fighter has built up the image of a man with don't-bother-me-cause-I'm-too-busy expression, lips tightly shut in a straight line, a man who is always there when someone bad did something wrong. Borissov basked in the media spotlight and also became notorious for his direct expressions.

Borissov's supporters say they rely on his persistence, intolerance for political pressure and understanding of the people to tackle the numerous problems of the capital under his tenure. Those opposing him say he lacks the expertise, subtlety and political will to lead Sofia to prosperity.

Run-offs decided the fate of eight of the eleven settlements that held preliminary mayor elections the previous week because their mayors joined the parliament as law makers.

The candidates of the governing coalition won the partial elections for mayors in all but two of the eight municipalities and mayoralties - Sofia and Pernik Iztok district.

Nearly 2,000 polling sections, 1,456 of which in Sofia, opened their doors to voters and the total number of people eligible to cast a vote was close to a quarter of the country's population.

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