Bulgarians Vote for President After Year of Political Crisis
(Bloomberg) -- Bulgarians are voting in a presidential runoff that is likely to re-elect incumbent Rumen Radev to a new five-year term and cement gains for political forces who ousted long-serving Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
After winning the first round of elections with nearly 50% of the votes, Radev on Sunday faces Anastas Gerdzhikov, the head of Bulgaria’s largest university and backed by Borissov’s former ruling Gerb party.
Political divisions have riven the European Union’s poorest member state, forcing it to hold three general elections this year alone even as authorities struggle to contain one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks of Covid-19 and to secure aid funds from the bloc.
The third parliamentary ballot, held a week ago, saw a group of parties pledging to stamp out the endemic corruption and organized crime that has hampered Bulgaria’s economy and kept it out of the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone defeat Borissov’s former ruling Gerb party.
They’re now trying to form a ruling coalition. If Radev, a NATO-trained Air Force general, wins a new five-year term to the largely ceremonial post, that could ease the transition to a new government and help end the state’s political limbo.
If Gerdzhikov wins, it could add a potential wrinkle to the ongoing coalition negotiations, as the next president may name an interim government if the parties fail to seal a ruling agreement.
Radev won his first term in 2017, vowing to lift EU sanctions against Russia that had been imposed for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
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