WOULD YOU BUY AN USED CAR FROM ANY OF THESE PEOPLE?

by Stamen Manolov

In an ill-thoughtover replay of the 1960 ad for JFK targeted at Richard Nixon

general elections bulgaria 2024.jpg

In an election campaign almost entirely dominated by finger-pointing and mudslinging the "genius" PRs of the CC-DB-DSB, or Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria-Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, seem to have gained the top ignominy for the worst election message. In an ill-thoughtover replay of the 1960 ad for JFK targeted at Richard Nixon – anyone remember the Would-You-Buy-an-Used-Car-From-This-Man publicity stunt? – the CC-DB-DSB pictured Nikolay Denkov, the former prime minister, next to an ugly portrait of Boyko Borisov (whom the CC-DB-DSB had identified as their chief enemy but with whom they partnered in a coalition government for nine months) and an even uglier picture of Delyan Peevski (the co-leader of the Turkish-dominated DPS, whom the CC-DB-DSB had vilified as the source of all corruption in Bulgaria but with whom they collaborated when they needed a few more votes for their amendments to the Constitution) with a byline: What should your next prime minister be like?

Boyko Borisov's GERB filed a complaint to the Central Election Commission, this country's elections watchdog. The CC-DB-DSB, it said, used a likeness of Boyko Borisov illegally, without his consent and in a manner that was derogatory and caused him moral harm. The elections committee agreed. The CC-DB-DSB did not pull their billboards down, however. They just blackened out the images of Borisov and Peevski so that their telltale silhouettes remained identifiable.

Negative political advertising has a sorry history in post-Communist Bulgaria. The first multi-party election, in 1990, was lost by the anti-Communist SDS, or Union of Democratic Forces, largely because in its campaign it used a map of the country dotted with skulls indicating, presumably, the locations of former Communist-run labour camps.

In 2024 the CC-DB-DSB lost as much as 50 percent of their backing. It is now but the third political party in the 50th National Assembly.

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