Test for Bulgarian Premier as Presidential Election Begins

Test for Bulgarian Premier as Presidential Election Begins
Test for Bulgarian Premier as Presidential Election Begins

Bulgarians voted Sunday in a first round of presidential election, a key test of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s popularity in the EU’s poorest country.

If his candidate and protégée, Tsetska Tsacheva, fails to win the presidency, Borisov might call an early election, plunging Bulgaria into renewed political uncertainty, experts say.

Opinion polls suggest that Tsacheva, currently speaker of parliament, will top the crowded field of 21 candidates with around 30% of the vote, AFP reported.

But close on the 58-year-old’s tail will be MiG ace and former air force head, Rumen Radev, the candidate of the opposition Socialists who is seen as more sympathetic to Russia.

This will set up what surveys suggest will be a tight runoff contest between Tsacheva and Radev on November 13 to become the southeastern European country’s head of state.

While Borisov presents Tsacheva as the “mother of the nation”, political scientist Dimitar Bechev warned that he had failed to grasp her “dangerous lack of charisma”.

“Radev could end up carrying the day by a small margin,” Bechev said.

Burly former bodyguard and police chief, Borisov, 57, has injected some much-needed stability into Bulgaria since becoming premier for the second time in late 2014.

His first term ended abruptly in February 2013 when Bulgarians livid about poverty, corruption and cronyism took to the streets across the country. Eight people set themselves on fire.

More protests brought down the subsequent technocrat government after barely a year, precipitating a fresh election that returned Borisov to power at the head of a minority government.

Graft and poverty remain rife, however, and progress on reforms has been sluggish. A new voter concern in recent months has seen thousands of migrants stranded in Bulgaria.

The job of Bulgarian president is largely ceremonial but he or she is still a respected figure who chooses some top officials and can appoint technocrat governments in a crisis.


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