Bulgarian voters, tired of politicians promising a brighter future on the background of economic misery and rampant crime, largely stayed away from the polls in Saturday's elections for the mayor of Sofia and eight smaller cities.
With polls closed, the electoral commission said that less than one in three people went out to vote. In the capital, Sofia, about 34 percent of the 1.1 million eligible voters went to the polls.
First preliminary results by the MBMD polling agency showed that Boiko Borisov a former senior police official and an independent candidate was leading in the race for the mayor's office in Sofia, considered one of the most important political positions in the country.
With preliminary results giving Borisov about 38 percent of the vote, he did not collect enough ballots to win the office in the first round and will face Socialist candidate Tatyana Doncheva who came in second with 23 percent of the vote in a Nov. 5 runoff.
Among the other candidates were former Finance Minister Milen Velchev and Svetoslav Gavriyski, a former National Bank governor.
First official results of the race for Sofia mayor are expected Sunday.
The 15 candidates for the job all pledged to fight rampant crime and corruption and to improve the city's poor infrastructure. The capital has remained under the control of right-wing parties since Bulgaria's communist regime collapsed 15 years ago.
If the Socialists win the mayoral elections in Sofia they will control all four key posts in the country the three others being the presidency, the premiership and the parliament speaker.
Bulgaria, a Balkan country of 8 million, became a NATO member in 2004 and hopes to join the European Union in 2007, reported AP.