Bulgarian President wins apparent reelection

Bulgaria, Sofia-Bulgaria’s exit polls suggest that incumbent Rumen Radev is clearly the winner of the Bulgarian presidential election. Partial official results are expected later in Sunday.

According to polls by several polling agencies, about 65% of the votes are given to Radef, 58. He seeks a second five-year term, primarily in ceremonial posts.

Atanas Gerzikov, 58, the president of the University of Sofia, backed by former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, is said to be lagging behind with 32 percent of the support. About 3 percent voted against both candidates.

A critic of Borisov’s voice and a solid supporter of last year’s anti-corruption protests, Radef fascinated many Bulgarian people who were fed up with politicians they considered corrupt. Radef has appointed two consecutive interim governments that have unveiled allegations of corruption in Bulgaria’s industrial and financial sectors.

“Don’t give us a chance to torpedo our future in the past. After voting on Sunday, Radef has all 15 minutes today (to vote) so as not to waste the next five years. Let’s find it.

The Central Election Commission said Sunday’s preliminary turnout was lower than 40 percent from the first round.

Corruption is a major problem in Bulgaria, the poorest member state of the European Union. Last year, when GERB was the ruling party, hundreds of thousands of people complained and protested about the public corruption of seven million people in the Black Sea country.

The head of state of Bulgaria has no executive branch and all major policies must be approved by parliament, but popular elections give the president more power. The president can lead the army, refuse legislation, and sign international treaties. He also appoints an ambassador and responsible for intelligence and security services.

We Continue the Change, a new party that won the Bulgarian parliamentary elections earlier this month, has declared support for Radef, along with other Borisov opponents, including the Socialist Party and the anti-elite “there are” parties. .. Founded just a few weeks ago by two Harvard graduates, We Continue the Change has won with the resolute anti-transplant action of its founder as Minister of Finance and Minister of Economics.

Bulgaria is very divided in loyalty. Although it belongs to NATO and the EU, many Bulgarian still feel a cultural and historical affinity with Russia. The country remains heavily dependent on Russia’s energy and has been exposed to heightened tensions between Russia and the West.

The country is also struggling with the outbreak of coronavirus that has overwhelmed many hospitals and the skepticism of vaccines that has led to one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU.

Former Air Force Commander Radef, who once studied at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, promised to maintain Bulgarian status at NATO. At the presidential election debate, Radef insisted on having a practical relationship with Russia, adding that the EU should restore dialogue with Moscow.

“The sanctions imposed on Crimea and Ukraine have no consequences,” Radef said last week, adding that the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, was “now Russian.” His remarks prompted a protest from the Ukrainian government.

The final result is scheduled for Monday. If the exit poll is confirmed, Radef will start the second term on January 22nd.

By Veselin Toshkov

Associated Press