SPOT THE DIFFERENCES?

by Stamen Manolov

A poster advertising GERB's leader Boyko Borisov, who was prime minister twice in the past 10 years, appeared for a few days on billboards along Bulgaria's highways and on posters posted outside GERB offices in some towns.

Borisov, whose candidate, Tsetska Tsacheva lost bitterly to Ret Gen Rumen Radev in the presidential election last year thus prompting her boss to resign and invoke a snap election, appears stern as ever, wearing a general's uniform and posing in front of the Bulgarian national flag. Before taking up politics Borisov was in the protection business, then became this country's top policeman.

Some skeptics immediately drew visual comparisons to Gen Augusto Pinochet, the Latin American dictator who ruled Chile with an iron fist  during the 1970s and 1980s.

Political activists alerted the Central Election Commission, or CEC, the body supposed to oversee the "fairness" of the election campaign. The CEC noted the material broke the law twice: once by having a political contender posing in front of the national flag, and one more time by lacking the compulsory note Buying or Selling Votes Is a Crime, which legally should be at least 10 percent of the total size of the image.

GERB were surprised and said they didn't know anything about the billboards. They said a "mysterious" man had called them by phone and then said the materials were to be distributed in the "villages."

The owner of a billboard along the Sofia-Plovdiv highway is a plastic packaging manufacturer and a soft drinks producer while the owner of the billboard in Sofia's Lyulin housing estate was not immediately clear.

Similar images of Borisov have been printed on T-shirts and are being worn by supporters at various public occasions, but they do not list the ballot number of GERB, therefore falling outside the competence scope of the CEC.

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