Bulgarians Elect Graft-Fighting President for Second Term
(Bloomberg) -- Bulgarian President Rumen Radev won a new five-year term by a wide margin in a runoff ballot, cementing gains among forces that ousted long-time Premier Boyko Borissov from power.
Radev won 67% of vote, according to official results with nearly all ballots counted. University head Anastas Gerdzhikov, the candidate for Borissov’s former ruling Gerb party, won 32%. Gerdzhikov already conceded defeat, telling his supporters it was “obvious” that Radev won the runoff.
Radev’s re-election may help end a political power vacuum in European Union’s poorest member, which has held three parliamentary elections this year as it struggles to contain one of the world’s deadliest Covid outbreaks, secure access to EU aid funds and fight corruption.
“This is a victory of reason,” Radev said in Sofia, the capital, after the vote. “Bulgaria exits the deadlock and autocracy and is setting on the path of development, freedom and modernization.”
Radev, a NATO-trained Air Force general, has pledged to help fight endemic corruption and organized crime that he says have infiltrated the highest level of government for years. He took office in 2017 vowing to lift European Union sanctions on Russia and with the support of the pro-Russian Socialist Party.
His stance has put him at odds with Borissov, whose party was unexpectedly defeated in parliamentary elections this month and looks set to be relegated to the opposition.
While the presidential post is largely ceremonial, Radev will have a role in the formation of a new government. If parties negotiating a ruling coalition can’t agree, he appoints an interim government.
But Bulgarians want to see a new cabinet that can govern with a parliamentary majority, carry out judicial reforms and avoid an economic crisis, Radev said Sunday.
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