Bulgaria's ruling center-right GERB party managed to tighten its grip on power following the presidential and local election run-offs on October 30.
The party of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov emerged as the biggest winner in the final tally of mayors elected in Bulgaria's 27 regional capitals - it won 14 of the cities and towns that serve as administrative centres of Bulgaria's regions though by very slim margins, at times even about 1%, exit polls show.
The biggest win for the ruling party was to retain the Black Sea port of Varna, where the nominee it backed Kiril Yordanov was re-elected for a fourth term in office.
The other key battleground - the second-biggest town of Plovdiv - witnessed a heated neck-to-neck battle for the mayoral post in the run-off elections on Sunday, which eventually led to the victory of the ruling party candidate, according to exit poll results.
Ivan Totev, current district governor, nominated by the ruling center-right party GERB, managed to unseat incumbent mayor Slavcho Atanasov, who received 49% of the votes against his rival's 51%, the first exit polls showed, but analysts warned that a dramatic U-turn in the figures is not ruled out.
GERB party managed to retain their power in several towns considered until recently as strongholds of the Socialists, including Stara Zagora and Blagoevgrad. Borisov's nominees made a breakthrough there and turned upside down the sentiments of the electorate for the first time four year ago, during the local elections in 2007.
The other "blue" cities are Veliko Tarnovo, Pleven, Russe, Silistra, Smolyan, Stara Zagora and Yambol.
At the first round of the elections on October 23, GERB-backed nominees imposed themselves in Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo and the capital Sofia.
The Socialist runners and independent nominees backed by the party, previously a senior partner in the ruling three-way coalition, came out victorious from the mayoral battle in 6 of the cities and towns that serve as administrative centres of Bulgaria's regions. (Source: Sofia News Agency)