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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Presidential elections in Bulgaria. Rumen Radew re-elected for another term

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The incumbent head of state, 58-year-old Rumen Radev, won the second round of the presidential elections in Bulgaria. According to exit polls, the current president can count on 64-66 percent of support. Radev’s rival was Anastas Gerdzikov, rector of the Sofia University. In 2016, Radev acted as a candidate for the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), and now enjoys the support of several parties.

According to exit polls conducted by Alpha Research and Gallup International, Radew can count on 64-66 percent of the vote. His rival Anastas Gerdzikov, backed by the center-right GERB party of former prime minister Boyko Borisov, the rector of Sofia University, obtained support oscillating between 32 and 33 percent.

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During the election campaign, Rumen Radev gained the support of the centrist party We Continue Changes Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, the movement “Straighten up, God. We’re coming” and the party is Such a Nation, singer, producer and TV presenter Slavi Trifonov.

Rumen RadewPAP / EPA / VASSIL DONEV

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The president of Bulgaria and the main political forces

Radew’s relations with the left have been strained in recent months. The leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Kornelia Ninova, was in no hurry to officially announce support for the candidate for re-election, and the internal party groups, disappointed with insufficiently pro-Russian attitude of Radev, even campaigned against his re-election.

During the first 5-year term of office, Radev criticized the previous Bulgarian government led by Boyko Borisov, among others for the construction of an almost EUR 1.5 billion extension to Serbia of the Turkish Potok gas pipeline, and for the delay in the construction of a gas interconnector leading to Greece, which was supposed to be ready two years ago but is still not completed. Moreover, the Bulgarian president expressed his strong support for the Three Seas Initiative, perceived by the left as an anti-Russian project.

For most of his first term in office, especially with the start of anti-government protests in 2020, Radev criticized Borisov’s government, accusing it of corruption. In August 2020, the president went out to the protesters shouting: “Down with the mafia.” These words became the dominant slogan of the protests. While voting in Sunday’s elections, Radew said that “we shouldn’t give chances to the past.”

Anastas GerdzikovPAP / EPA / VASSIL DONEV

Who is Rumen Radew?

Radew is trained as a military pilot with the rank of a general. For three years, until July 2016, he was the commander of the Bulgarian military aviation. From 2005 to 2009 he was the commander of the largest military air base Graf Ignatiewo, and in 2009-2011 he was the deputy commander of the Bulgarian military aviation.

In 1987 he graduated from the Military Aviation Academy, in 2000 he defended his doctoral degree in military sciences at the Military Academy. He holds a diploma from the American Air War College Maxwell, in which he completed the course on the doctrine of air wars strategy with the best result among foreign students, giving him 13th place among all 250 university graduates.

– I have never spoken out against Bulgaria’s membership in the structures of the European Union or NATO. I have planned and directed many exercises within the North Atlantic Alliance. I was educated at the NATO academy – this is how Radev responded to the accusations that, as a candidate of the left, he would strive to detach Bulgaria from Euro-Atlantic structures and direct it to the Russian sphere of influence.

Rumen Radew at the ballot boxPAP / EPA / VASSIL DONEV

On the initiative of Radev, in June this year Bulgaria became the host of the Three Seas Initiative, which it describes as “a unique instrument for the development of transport and energy regional connections (…)”. The Bulgarian president invited Greece to this international political and economic initiative, offering it the role of an observer.

President in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian constitution essentially restricts the powers of the head of state, while in some circumstances grants the president significant powers, e.g. to appoint a provisional government, which was applicable in the Bulgarian political reality this year. The two consecutive members of parliament were unable to select a government, and this meant that, under the president’s decision, from May executive power was exercised by provisional governments.

Main photo source: PAP / EPA / VASSIL DONEV



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