Between the future and the past: Bulgaria votes

Between the future and the past: Bulgaria votes

Socialist and Russia-friendly Kornelia Ninova is set to mount a strong challenge for Bulgaria’s prime ministership on Sunday. The economy

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Socialist and Russia-friendly Kornelia Ninova is set to mount a strong challenge for Bulgaria’s prime ministership on Sunday.

The economy has been central to the campaign, with Bulgaria carrying the unenviable title of the poorest EU member-state…and its most corrupt. Brussels estimates some 20% of the country’s GDP is squirrelled away by unscrupulous politicians and administrators – something Ms Ninova has vowed to change. The socialist has branded her opponent, Boyko Borisov – a former PM who’s led Bulgaria for the better part of eight years – “a thief” for being complicit in the looting of state coffers, a charge the former PM denies.

Ninova has also called for the warming of ties with Russia, insisting that, although Bulgaria is a NATO member, the pursuit of strong ties with Moscow is in the “national interest”.

She may be right. The Kremlin has repeatedly outlined plans to run huge natural gas pipelines through Bulgaria, giving the poor Balkan state a geopolitical power not seen for centuries. For this reason, the socialists say they’ll oppose the extension of EU sanctions against Russia, a message that’s been well received among older voters who hanker for an idealised past.