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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 13:23 GMT
Profile: Georgi Parvanov
Georgi Parvanov celebrates his victory
Georgi Parvanov ran a clever and colourful campaign
The man who will be Bulgaria's next president, Georgi Parvanov, is a 44-year-old historian who has been steering the country's reformed communist party towards social democracy.


I am on your side

Georgi Parvanov's election slogan

He focused his election campaign on social issues in an effort to gain support from beyond the Bulgarian Socialist Party's traditional ex-communist electorate.

His slogan was: "I am on your side".

After his victory became clear he indicated there would be no change in foreign policy.

"I will work for Bulgaria's strategic choice - Bulgaria's membership in the European Union and Nato," he said.

Georgi Parvanov
Parvanov focused his campaign on social issues

Mr Parvanov, who has been leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party since 1996, likes jogging, cinema and playing football.

He is also an avid reader and writer.

His latest book "Before and after the 10th" describes the events in November 1989, when the late communist leader Todor Zhivkov was overthrown by the party members.

He himself has been widely praised for his ability to strike the right balance between reforming the BSP into a modern social democratic type party and not alienating its core electorate of elderly ex-communists.

Opposition years

He also managed to avert splits within the party when it took decisions opposed by most of its electorate, such as backing Bulgaria's bid to join Nato.

Mr Parvanov won wide respect in 1997, when he went against a party ruling and refused an offer to form a new government.

His decision ended street protests against the Socialists, then in government, who were blamed for worsening economic situation and falling living standards in Bulgaria.

Mr Parvanov's refusal also sent the Socialists into opposition, but, at the same time, turned him into one of the country's most prominent politicians.

The Socialists now form the third biggest group in parliament.

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The BBC's Nick Thorpe
"The people of Bulgaria have voted for change"
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