Bulgarians vote to elect the president in the run-off
Sophia Bulgarians went to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president in a hotly contested second round amid the escalation of COVID-19 and the political crisis that has gripped the poorest country in the European Union.
The choice is between incumbent Rumen Radev, 58, who is seeking a second five-year term in the largely ceremonial position, and Sophia University president Anastas Gerdjikov, 58, who is backed by former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s centre-right GERB party. .
Radev, an outspoken critic of Borisov and a vocal supporter of anti-corruption protests last year, is running for the run-off as the front-runner after winning 49.5% of the vote in the first round on November 14, ahead of Gerdzhikov, who won by 22.8 by a wide margin. %.
Radev, a former air force commander, has attracted many Bulgarians—fed up with politicians they see as corrupt and far from the people—by appointing two successive interim governments that exposed alleged corruption cases in industry and finance.
Founded just a few weeks ago by two Harvard alumni, the We Keep Change party surprisingly won last week’s parliamentary elections due to their resolute anti-corruption measures as interim ministers of finance and economy.
The new party declared its support for Radev, along with many other opponents of Boyko Borisov, including the Socialist Party and the anti-elite “There Is Such a People” party.
Gerdjikov, professor of ancient and medieval literature, is supported mainly by Borisov’s party, Borisov’s party, and the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
A staunch supporter of Bulgaria’s pro-Western orientation, Gerdjikov pledged to unite the nation, improve the rule of law and work for better job opportunities.
Radev, a former NATO fighter pilot who studied for a time at the US Air War College in Alabama, has vowed to preserve Bulgaria’s place in the Western Alliance, if re-elected. But he also insisted on establishing practical relations with Russia and the need to lift sanctions on Moscow.
During a presidential debate last week, Radev said Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, is “currently Russian.” His comments sparked protests from the Ukrainian government.
About 6.7 million Bulgarians are entitled to vote, but poll organizers expect many to stay at home due to growing concern over a new deadly wave of COVID-19.
Preliminary results will be announced on Sunday evening, with the final result out on Monday.
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