- Title: BULGARIA: FEATURE - ELECTION PREVIEW
- Date: 2nd January 1996
- Summary: SOFIA AND LOZEN, BULGARIA (RTV/RTV LIBRARY - ACCESS ALL) (RECENT AND FILE) (RECENT - OCTOBER 15, 1996) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. WIDE OF RALLY HELD BY TRADES UNIONS TO DENOUNCE SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT 2. CLOSE-UP BULGARIANS WAVING BANNERS, SHOUTING PROTESTS 3. TRADES UNION REPRESENTATIVE TRENCHEV ADDRESSING RALLY, SAYING, "COLD AND HUNGER WILL BEGIN IN A WEEK OR TWO. WE BEG FOR MONEY FROM THE WEST, BUT NOBODY CARES FOR US." (BULGARIAN) 4. ELECTION POSTERS ON WALLS 5. CLOSE UP POSTER OF SOCIALIST PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IVAN MARAZOV AND VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IRINA BOKOVA 6. POSTER FOR OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PETAR STOYANOV UNION OF DEMOCTRATIC FORCES LOZEN (VILLAGE 30 KM FROM SOFIA) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) (RECENT) 7. MAN WITH MULE AND CART CROSSING STREET 8. MAN WITH CART SAYING, "WE WILL VOTE AND HOPE FOR SOMETHING BETTER. WE CANNOT MAKE ENDS MEET. WE ARE POOR AS OUR PENSIONS ARE PATHETIC." (BULGARIAN) 9. WIDE OF OLD WOMEN IN THE STREET 10. OLD WOMAN SAYING, "I RECEIVED MY PENSION YESTERDAY AND IT CANNOT COVER THE ELECTRICITY AND WATER BILLS WHICH ARE 2,000 LEVS EACH (10 U.S.DOLLARS)" (BULGARIAN) 11. ANOTHER OLD WOMAN SAYING, "OUR CHILDREN HAVE VERY LOW INCOMES AND THEY HAVE TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES. THEY CAN'T DEAL WITH US, OUR MEDICINES ARE VERY EXPENSIVE" (BULGARIAN) (FILE - JANUARY 19, 1992) (ACCESS ALL) 12. VARIOUS OF VOTING IN PREVIOUS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS (FILE - MAY 1996) 13. OUTGOING PRESIDENT ZHELYU ZHELEV MEETING IMF OFFICIAL RESPONSIBLE FOR BULGARIA 14. EXTERIOR BULGARIAN CENTRAL BANK 15. CLOSE-UP OF GOODS IN SHOPS/ PRICE TAGS MARKED IN DOLLARS SOFIA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 16. SOCIALIST CANDIDATE IVAN MARAZOV SAYING, "THE COMING WINTER WILL BE ONE OF THE HARDEST FOR THIS COUNTRY. IT WILL BE DIFFICULT BECAUSE OF THE ENERGY PRICES, THE BREAD PROBLEM AND THE UNEMPLOYMENT." (BULGARIAN) 17. PEOPLE PROTESTING AT UTILITIES COST, BURNING ELECTRICITY BILLS (FILE - MAJORCA, SPAIN) (SEPTEMBER 1995) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 18. PHOTOCALL OF EU SUMMIT SOFIA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 19. STOYANOV TALKING ON PHONE IN OFFICE 20. STOYANOV SAYING, "I THINK THAT BULGARIA'S DEVELOPMENT IS CLOSELY RELATED TO MEMBERSHIP OF THE EU AND NATO. THAT IS A MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM THE POSITION OF THE SOCIALIST CANDIDATES. THEY HAVE NEVER HAD A FIRM POSITION ON THE ISSUE OF AFFILIATION WITH NATO." (BULGARIAN) SOFIA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 21. OLD WOMEN SEATED ON BENCH 22. TRAMS IN STREETS 23. BEGGAR BOY COUNTING MONEY Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 17th January 1996 12:00
- Location: SOFIA AND LOZEN BULGARIA
- Country: Bulgaria
- Reuters ID: LVA4C2IIQPC05HWACOUECAANNUQY
- Story Text: INTRO: Bulgarian presidential candidates are bracing themselves for Sunday's poll as voters appear more worried by the country's grave economic and social crisis.
Candidates in Bulgaria's Sunday presidential poll face an uphill struggle -- voters are disenchanted, more concerned about food on their tables and heating in their homes as a harsh winter looms.
A trade union rally held under two weeks before the election saw thousands of Bulgarians take to the streets in protest at the dire state of the economy. Union leaders slated the ruling Socialist government, claiming the former Warsaw pact country is more impoverished than ever before.
Monthly inflation is approaching 20 percent and the average monthly wage is worth 55 U.S. dollars. The central bank must find money for nuclear fuel, coal and wheat from its dwindling foreign currency reserves to avert bread and power shortages during the forthcoming freezing months.
Many Bulgarians say they are too disillusioned with politicians to bother voting. Socialist candidate and currentCulture Minister Ivan Marazov acknowledges he faces a tough battle. His rival Petar Stoyanov, candidate of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) hopes disatisfaction with the Socialists will win support for him.
Opinion polls have shown him slightly ahead of Marazov but still short of an absolute majority in the first round.
In the rural village of Lozen, some 30 km from the capital Sofia, residents do not expect the election will bring a better standard of living. "We will vote and hope for something better," one elderly man said. "We are poor as our pensions are pathetic." One woman said her children could barely afford to support her or buy the medicines she requires.
Outgoing president Zhelyu Zhelev, who is not seeking re-election, has publicly criticised the Socialist government's handling of the economic crisis. Elected in Bulgaria's first presidential elections in 1992, he warned of tough times ahead as the nation tried to rid itself of Communist structures.
Bulgaria is imposing stringent economic reforms to meet International Monetary Fund criteria. The central bank raised its main interest rate to a record high of 300 percent last month in a bid to stabilise the lev and curb inflation. Earlier this year, shops and markets became almost deserted as retailers raised prices and sought hard currency payments.
"The coming winter will be one of the hardest for this country," acknowledged Marazov in an interview with Reuters.
"It will be difficult because of the energy prices, the bread problem and the unemployment.
Campaigning by the two main candidates has concentrated on national security and foreign policy.
Under its post-communist constitution, Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic in which the president's powers are limited to vetoing legislation once, appointing ambassadors and some state officials and commanding the armed forces.
Stoyanov said he wanted to integrate the former Warsaw pact state into the European Union and NATO, but Marazov said he would like to put these issues to a referendum.
A total of 13 candidates are contesting Sunday's poll.
But many of the issues issues they raise seem irrelevant to Bulgaria's 8.5 million people.
If no one wins a majority in the first round, a second round is scheduled a week later.
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