Exit polls: Bulgarian president wins apparent reelection

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Exit polls in Bulgaria show that Rumen Radev is the clear winner for the country’s presidency

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Sofia, Bulgaria – Exit polls in Bulgaria show that Rumen Radev is the clear winner for the country’s presidency. The partial official result is expected after Sunday.

The 58-year-old Radev has got around 65% of the votes in polls conducted by several polling organisations. He is seeking a second five-year term in a largely ceremonial post.

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Radev, a vocal critic of Borisov and a strong supporter of last year’s anti-corruption protests, has attracted many Bulgarians who are fed up with politicians they see as corrupt. Radev has appointed two successive caretaker governments that exposed alleged corruption in Bulgaria’s industrial and financial sectors.

“Let’s not let the past tarnish our future. Give everyone 15 minutes today (to vote), so that we don’t waste the next five years.”

The Central Election Commission said early voting on Sunday was less than 40% of the first round.

Corruption is a huge issue in Bulgaria, the poorest member of the European Union. Last year when GERB was the ruling party, hundreds of thousands of people came to protest, complaining about official corruption in the Black Sea nation of 7 million.

Bulgaria is very divided in its loyalty. It belongs to NATO and the European Union, but many Bulgarians still feel a cultural and historical connection with Russia. The country is heavily dependent on Russian energy and is exposed to rising tensions between Russia and the West.

The country is also grappling with a coronavirus outbreak that has overwhelmed many hospitals and vaccine skepticism that has led to one of the EU’s lowest vaccination rates.

Radev, a former Air Force commander who once attended the US Air War College in Alabama, has vowed to maintain Bulgaria’s place in NATO. In the presidential debate, Radev insisted on having a pragmatic relationship with Russia, and said that the EU should restore its dialogue with Moscow.

“The sanctions imposed on Crimea and Ukraine are not yielding any results,” Radev said last week. The Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, was “currently Russian”. His remarks prompted protests from the Ukrainian government.

The final result is expected on Monday. If the exit polls are confirmed, Radev will begin his second term on January 22.

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