Dobrolevo is a godforsaken small village in Europe’s poorest corner: the North-West Region of Bulgaria. It is located in the municipality of Borovan. Dobrolevo has the typical profile of a north-western Bulgarian village: aging population, no means of living, no prospects.
One can get a clear idea of the life people in the region live just from the last three headlines that Google’s search engine returns:
“450 grams of cannabis found in a house in a Vratsa-region village”
“A minor girl beats an old man to death with a metal pipe for 160 leva”
“An 18-year-old dies of serious injuries following a car accident”
According to data of the National Statistical Institute from the 2011 census Dobrolevo has 865 residents and 35% of them are above 60 years of age. The data of the Civil Registration and Administrative Services Directorate General are a little different. According to them as of March 2017 there were 921 people registered with a permanent address in the village and 939 people were registered with a present address.
Although poor and abandoned, the residents of the village are obviously quite curious and active; they seek information and make informed and reasoned choices. That conclusion can be drawn from the results of Sunday’s European parliamentary election.
According to protocols from the two polling stations in the village a total of 713 people had right to vote. Of them, 406 actually voted, i.e. voter turnout was about 57%. That is well above the average level in the country.
But that is just one of the many strange things about the election behavior of Dobrolevo’s residents. The results from the protocols show that the people in Dobrolevo liked the candidate on the Movement for Rights and Freedom’s (MRF) ticket best. The MRF won more than 62% of the votes in the village. It won in both stations. The election winner on a national level, GERB, as well as the Bulgarian Socialist Party, had much poorer results.
The MRF performed quite well at the previous European election in the village in 2014 but it won much fewer votes. At the local election in 2015 Dobrolevo’s residents decisively elected the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s candidate as mayor.
If you still think that can have its explanation, there is more than that.
The voters in the village were obviously somehow attracted by the magnetic figure of MRF MP Delyan Peevski, who was second on the party’s ticket.
Peevski categorically won the preferential vote of Dobrolevo’s residents. Besides, that happened despite the fact that they were not as happy as their voting peers in the village of Sveta Petka, Velingrad region, who had the chance of “touching and taking a photo with one of the most influential people in the state, an established politician, a man who is really loved and respected by his voters.”
There Peevski, who for two years had not appeared in public and had not gone to work in the National Assembly, decided “to show himself” to his voters.
There is no information that the MRF MP has visited the villages in the Vratsa region. Historically, the party’s strongest results are in the regions with a predominantly ethnic Turkish population. According to official data of the municipality of Borovan, where Dobrolevo is located, the ethnic Turks – in the entire municipality – are seven in number.
So obviously it is all about arguments. Political arguments that the MRF uses to motivate its voters. Dobrolevo is no exception. The situation is similar in the other villages in that extremely poor region. The MRF is the first political power in the village of Sirakovo. The results in Malorad and Nivyanin are similar.
Dobrolevo, however, is leader in preferential votes. Their other favorite besides Peevski is GERB’s candidate Marin Tashev Zahariev whom nobody knows. The deputy mayor of Smolyan is also a favorite in the other godforsaken villages in the region.
How the residents of the villages were motivated to vote for people they had never seen and heard of is an important question.
Because it is connected with another more important question: is there vote trading? All that happens before the eyes of all institutions and all other political powers. But there is no reaction.
Photo: Delyan Peevski’s visit in the village of Sarnitsa