Maxim Behar about the mayoral candidates in the "Your Day" show on Nova News TVOctober, 2023
Host: Hello "Your Day" continues and we step into the political scene with PR expert Maxim Behar. Hello and welcome. How does the start of the election campaign look to you? What are your expectations?
Maxim: We haven't seen a campaign so far. So far, we've only seen the candidates.
Host: Not a formal one, did you feel it was happening?
Maxim: I personally didn’t feel like any campaigning was going on. All of the candidates were asked the same questions and had the same answers. For example the answers to “ What are the current problems in Sofia or Varna?” were that there are no kindergartens and that the infrastructure needs to be fixed. Nothing specific at this point. Personally, I think that most people have their focus set on Sofia and how will the elections proceed there. From a communication point of view, all of this is very mainstream and sluggish. Let’s see how the GERB candidate will perform, even though the beginning doesn’t seem promising to me.
Host: Are you expecting an aggressive campaign in Sofia, Mr. Behar?
Maxim: I don’t think it will be, as they are intelligent people and will not repeat the usual election promises. Sofia has gone through 15 very hard years of controversial governing. Some people take out the achievements, others take out the shortcomings. It seems to me that both main candidates Anton Hekimian and Vasil Terziev should act with clear arguments, proposals, and visions. Two weeks ago the city council voted on providing the biggest budget Sofia has ever had. Each of the candidates should be able to give strong and efficient arguments on how it will be used.
Host: I'm smiling because I've already heard from several candidates, including Mr. Terziev, that this budget will be reviewed.
Maxim: Well, let it be reviewed, but let us know how. Both of them are well-educated in doing business. Hekimian has been on our TV screen for years and is used to giving the specifics. Vasil Terziev has also been in business for many years, I know him personally. I hope that debates will be adequate and no extremities will occur.
I support the idea of every municipality being run like a private company. That is, to have one Director General who is the Mayor. Under him, there should be Deputy Mayors who should be his deputy managers. At the end of each month, the budget line should be drawn and if money is not sufficient, they should not borrow from the country, but rather think and work on earning them. I don’t know if this will be possible in Bulgaria, even though it is possible throughout the world. That is why I support people who understand how business is supposed to work.
On the other hand, here we are discussing four candidates, but there are other 400 candidates, who have no experience with municipal administration and being a mayor. This is the first thing they will have to contend with. In any case, we need change in Sofia, and I very much hope that someone will bring it. I hope for the strong expertise of Boris Bonev, he is now in the shadow of Vasil Terziev. If they win the election, he is the man who understands the municipality and knows what to do and how to do it.
Host: How crucial are the debates during the election campaigns? Are they a loss of time or a positive? Do politicians keep themselves safe in this way? Is this the key to helping people vote for a candidate?
Maxim: I'm a fan of social media in all respects because it provides transparency and opportunity for debate. But in this case, I wouldn't want to overestimate them. I think there will be a debate between the two main candidates, Anton Hekimian and Vasil Terziev. Thus many decisions can be made, as both of them come from the major political parties in the country. Such a debate can turn tables and we make it easy for us to see who is better prepared.
Two things are missing. One of them is a list of the 10 most urgent actions that need to be taken so Sofia can become better. This is not only a PR approach, it can also help send a message and show that the candidates are ready to commit to the cause. The second one is to strengthen the relationship with the business and the employers in Sofia.
In my opinion, the private business sector will decide the election outcome, as both the people and the future of the city depend on it.
Host: Why are we doing such political campaigns in our country? Which you experts judge as not good enough. The opinions and ideas of the PR experts in the political formations are not taken into consideration or something is missing in those PR experts who work with the political formations.
Maxim: They use templates because the level of political marketing in Bulgaria is extremely low. Now you will see how this campaign will be the same as the one from 4 years ago and 16 years ago. Let's hope it leads to better results because we have quality candidates.
Host: Thank you very much for your participation.
You can watch the whole interview here.