Mr Cu-cu, a plush puppet who starred in a popular comedy show of the same name in Bulgaria, was the biggest surprise stage companion of this Sunday’s parliamentary elections (4), the singer and presenter Slavi Trifonov, 54 years old.
The rookie party Este Povo exists (ITN), founded by the artist who rose to prominence in the 1990s for his performance in “Cu-cu”, ran the electoral race and came in second place.
As of Monday night, with 92% of the ballots counted, he had about 18% of the vote, about five points higher than the polls predicted before the election.
At the front still stands the party of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boico Borisov, 61 – his center-right organization Gerb (Bulgarian Citizens for European Development) garnered nearly 26% of the vote.
But the prime minister’s party has shrunk since the 2017 elections, and Borisov must have other obstacles to forming a government, including the loss of the ultranationalist ally VMRO (Bulgarian National Movement), which failed had not obtained the minimum of 4% to access Parliament. .
“We woke up in another Bulgaria – where ruling without Borisov is possible,” wrote Ruzha Raicheva, one of the ITN members. The removal of the Prime Minister from the post he has held since 2004 is indeed a possibility: if Borisov does not form a majority coalition, the task will take second place in the elections.
It is unclear, however, which forces Trifonov would seek to join with his party, whose campaign was based on anti-system and anti-corruption rhetoric.
Before the election, he had declared only those who did not want to join: besides Gerb and VMRO, the governor also MRF and the Socialist BSP, heir to the Communist Party of the Soviet era.
The acronyms Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up! On the outside, Mafia !, Two other associations that arose out of protests against Borisov’s resignation last year, won around 10% and 5% of the vote, respectively, and are likely partners.
Trifonov was born in Pleven, a town of 120,000 inhabitants in northern Bulgaria, and said in interviews that he had had a lonely childhood, alongside his older sister, Petia, “his best friend”. In a rigid and demanding family, he spent the most time reading and obtained good grades.
The artistic trend emerged in a youth camp, when he agreed to tell jokes at the “talent night” and immediately succeeded. He graduated from viola and became known for his participation in satirical television programs, such as “Cu-cu” and his successor “O Canal”.
Considered one of the first independent producers in Bulgaria, Trifonov increased his notoriety by presenting the program “Show of Fame”, in which he performed with his group, also called Cu-cu.
He now joins a group of media figures who have won popular support by entering politics in post-Soviet countries. Other examples include former comedian and current President of Ukraine Volodimir Zelensky, Polish Catholic presenter Szymon Holownia, and Belgian blogger and youtuber Sergei Tikhanovski.
Outside Eastern Europe, Italian comedian Beppe Grillo also followed the same trajectory when he founded the 5 Star Movement, an anti-system party that conquered space in his country and came to the government.
Although this is Trifonov’s first candidacy, it is not his debut in politics at large. In 2015 he chaired a pro-referendum committee on the political system in Bulgaria and led a protest against the government when Borisov was installed for the third time in 2017.
This year, in addition to the anti-corruption platform, the singer adopted a program which called for direct elections for the posts of attorney general, national ombudsman (equivalent to attorney general) and regional directorate at the Ministry of the Interior. .
“Normally, after the elections, all parties declare themselves the winners. Today you are the winners! You demanded power and change is inevitable,” he wrote on Monday in a social network, in a post in which he also announced self-isolation, after symptoms of Covid-19.
For Bulgarian political scientist Antoni Galabov, the election results are an adequate portrait of Bulgarian society today: more than divided, fragmented. 31 parties were launched, 6 of which had crossed the 4% mark with 90% of the ballots counted.
“Politicians continued to talk to each other and not to voters,” Galabov, a professor at the new Bulgarian university, told local media.
With the exception of the MRF, which has allied with Gerb in the past, none of the other participants in the Legislative Assembly will be an easy achievement for Borisov.
Analysts believe negotiations will last for weeks, which could prevent the Assembly from approving the EU’s billionaire fund for post-pandemic recovery.
The poorest country in the European bloc, Bulgaria was also one of the hardest hit by Covid-19 and the least vaccinated of its population until this second.