The European elections in Bulgaria

The European elections in Bulgaria

Petar Valkov June 2019

At 100% of election papers processed, official results show that the ruling party GERB crushes the opposition, which may help stabilize the otherwise shaky Government. Despite some reports of minor incidents, the elections were organized and conducted admirably so legal disputes over the results are not expected.

GERB Party – 31.07% and 6 MEPs

The Bulgarian Socialist Party – 24.26% and 5 MEPs

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms Party – 16,55% and 3 MEPs

VMRO – 7.36% and 2 MEPs                                      

Democratic Bulgaria Union – 6.06% and 1 MEP

The low turnout usually helps the well-established mainstream parties such as the ruling GERB and the oppositional Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement For Rights and Freedoms Party, including VMRO Party. The Turnout in this case was 32%.

  • GERB (ruling, moderate conservative party, EPP member) won 31.07% and will promote 6 MEPs. Those may are Mariya Gabriel, Andrey Kovachev, Andrey Novakov, Eva Maydell, Asim Ademov and Alexander Yordanov. Since Mariya Gabriel is expected to assume position in the EC, Lilyana Pavlova is expected to become a MEP in the near future too.
  • The Bulgarian Socialist Party (moderate socialists in opposition, S&D members) won 24.26% and will promote 5 MEPs. Those will be Elena Yoncheva, Petar Vitanov, Tsvetelina Penkova, Ivo Hristov and Sergey Stanishev.
  • The Movement for Rights and Freedoms Party (liberal faction, ALDE member) got 16.55 % of the votes and will promote 3 MEPs. Those will be Mustafa Karadaya, Delyan Peevski and Ilhan Kyuchuk. However Mustafa Karadya and Delyan Peevski forfeited their MEP seats in favor of the candidates down the line –Ms Iskra Mihaylova and Ms Atidzhe Ali.  
  • VMRO -BND (Nationalist faction, supporting the cabinet, members of ECR) won 7.36% and will promote 2 MEPs. This will be Angel Dzhambazki, who currently serves as MEP and Yulian Angelov. Due to the fact that there is a strong preference vote for the 4th candidate Andrey Slabakov he will most likely take Mr Angelov`s place in Brussels. The preference vote results will be announced on 31 May.
  • Democratic Bulgaria Union (new liberal coalition in opposition) got 6.06% and will promote 1 MEP. The MEP will be Mr Radan Kanev who in general supports the EPP. The second in the list Mr Stefan Tafrov also got a strong preference vote, but preliminary results show, those are not enough to substitute Kanev.


The ruling coalition consisting of GERB and several nationalistic factions won 8 out of 17 MEP seats, which means they still hold the majority support among the general audience. This will provide additional legitimacy to the otherwise shaky government. On the other hand the main party in opposition – the Socialist Party couldn`t take full advantage of the GERB weaknesses prior and during the campaign. Some serious cleavages were evident in the Socialist faction, which prevented it from winning. This will show the rest of the political players in BG that the socialists are not yet ready to claim the power. So anti-government coalitions and early elections are less likely at this stage.

Mainstream Parties

The GERB Party is already taking measures to ostracize the local and national leaders who contributed to the sub-optimal result of the party. The Deputy chair resigned as he was involved in several scandals, The leaders of three regional branch organizations also resigned. The new management will strengthen the party positions in these constituencies prior the upcoming local elections in October.

The Socialist Party is attempting the same healing process only way less subtle. The Chair Ms Kornelia Ninova has resigned along with some of her closest compatriots. She will put her seat to a vote. She is likely to win again. However she also announced that elections will be held in each regional and district branch of the Socialist Party to appoint new local leadership. This is a major revamp of the party and may cause some of the internal conflicts to spiral out of control.

The three nationalist parties supporting the cabinet (Ataka, VMRO and NFSB) had serious differences before the campaign and each supported their own list. Only VMRO performed well, the other two factions got little over 1% each. This means some changes in the ruling coalition are possible. Ataka Party may leave the ruling coalition. The results shows that without unity the three nationalistic parties may fail in a future Parliamentary vote when the turnout will be much higher.

The Democratic Bulgaria Union won 1 MEP seat, with about 118 000 votes. They will need at least 50 000 more votes to win MP seats in a future general elections in Bulgaria to ensure their political future. The DB coalition is unstable and in isolation. This will make it hard for them to find new partners and grow.


Despite minor incidents and the usual technical issues, the vote was organized and conducted admirably, by an independent elections administration. Legal battles over the results are not likely.


In terms of policy, GERB MEPs will focus on EU security, border security, EU funds and will propagate unified Europe without segmentation. They will continue the efforts for Bulgarian accession in the Eurozone and Schengen, abolishing the CVM reports for Bulgaria. In general, they are expected to vote with Germany and France.