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Tatyana Doncheva: Peppery Red

Date: 14.10.2005

A lawyer who breaks the rules, a woman who feels stronger than men, an MP who plays the violin and starts the day with Haydn and Mozart.

That is part of who Tatyana Doncheva is.

And if you think that is a hell of an eccentric person, we'll have to agree!

The Socialist candidate for the mayoral post in Sofia is a perfect example of non-conformism. This typical Aquarian owes popularity mostly to her sharp tongue and her unending drive for independence. It is her triumph. And her drama.

People who like her apparently do so because of her openness and courage. Unlike most of her colleagues, Tatyana Doncheva is not afraid to criticize sharply politicians and institutions. That woman-with-principles image contrasts to the widespread assumption that politicians are subtle and corrupt.

Her own party fellows are not spared from lashing either. Not even the leader of the "reds." And although the Socialists are holding up her mayoral nomination, Doncheva insists that her ambition is to become "the mayor of Sofia, not the Socialist Party's mayor in Sofia."

Thus she made it clear that victory would not make her change her ways. And that she would never follow blindly the party policies.

But independence always comes at a price. The heresy of Tatyana Doncheva has been putting her political career to a test. Because conformism is the basis of survival, and anyone crossing the line in their beliefs and actions are at a risk of isolation.

It is not clear to what extend Doncheva's red mates are irritated by her eccentricity. But the facts speak for themselves. She has never been given a post in the heights of the party hierarchy, despite enjoying notable public support.

There has been a more radical view as well. Some analysts believe that the mayor nomination itself is a way to marginalize Doncheva. The Socialists know that she has no chance to win the run-off, and are pushing her to a political seppuku, they say.

Tatyana Doncheva's solitude is not only a career matter. The "iron lady" has never tried to conceal the fact that there is no man in her personal life.

In a recent interview for the "Club M" men's magazine, she even said:

"The Bulgarian man is a horrible thing. He is full of complexes and strong women make him feel uneasy."

Doncheva's only company in the evenings is Rachmaninov. Or a good movie - which means not made in Hollywood. To Doncheva, American films are like McDonalds or KFC...

So far, this anti-mainstream girl of 45 has always survived. Despite all the negative reactions. Paying the price - and apparently feeling that it's worth it.

Will the October 29 be another surprise from the peppery red candidate?

Maybe a key post would finally make her conform.

Or maybe the vote will be her Golgotha, indeed.

And after that, people will either forget her or always remember her as the lone ranger of freedom and loyalty to one's principles.

Petya Bondokova
Sofia News Agency

**Over the next several weeks Sofia News Agency editors will present to you all candidates to vie for Sofia mayor with portraits in the Faces Section.

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