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- November 14, 2016 at 1:59 am #347223
Russia-friendly political novice wins Bulgaria presidential election
Bulgarian Socialist ally Rumen Radev, a Russia-friendly newcomer to politics, won Sunday’s presidential election by a wide margin, exit polls showed, prompting centre-right Prime Minister Boiko Borisov to pledge to resign.
Radev, 53, entered Bulgarian politics on a wave of discontent with the ruling centre-right’s progress in combating corruption, disappointment with the European Union and concerns among voters over alienating an increasingly assertive Russia.
A former air force commander, Radev has argued Bulgaria needs to be pragmatic in balancing the requirements of its European Union and NATO memberships while seeking ways to benefit from a relationship with Moscow.
Exit polls showed Radev, who is backed by the opposition Socialist party, winning 58.1-58.5 percent of the vote, compared with 35.3-35.7 percent for Tsetska Tsacheva, the 58-year-old candidate of the ruling GERB party.
Compounding GERB’s problems, Tsacheva was seen as lacking Borisov’s charisma.
“The loss of GERB is definite and clear,” Borisov told reporters after exit polls were published.
“In this election, the people showed us that something is not as it should be. That our priorities may be good, but obviously there are better ones. So the most democratic thing, the right thing to do is to (resign),” he said.
Borisov’s resignation would likely lead to an early election as soon as March and could be followed by months by difficult coalition talks among several political groupings.
“There isn’t an alternative to take over government,” said political analyst Ognian Minchev. “The Socialists and the ethnic Turkish MRF party have lost much of their public trust only two years ago…Early elections are inevitable,” he said.
FINDING A BALANCE
Coupled with political instability, Bulgaria’s tilt toward Russia is a blow to the country’s western European allies and underscores Moscow’s growing influence in southeastern Europe.
In Moldova, another ex-communist state near the Black Sea, voters were expected to install a pro-Russian candidate as president and slam the breaks on seven years of closer EU integration in an election also held on Sunday.
While most of the key decisions in Bulgaria are taken by the government, the president, who leads the armed forces, can sway public opinion and has the power to send legislation back to parliament.
Radev is not advocating NATO member Bulgaria abandon its Western alliances, mindful of the financial impact of EU aid and the country’s long history of divided loyalties.
But he has called for an end to EU sanctions against Russia and said Sofia should be pragmatic in its approach to any international law violations by Moscow when it annexed Crimea.
“We listened (to the voters’) concerns. We said that we will work for Bulgarian national interests, that’s what gave us broad support,” a jubilant Radev told reporters.
Many in the Balkan country are keen to see restored trade with their former Soviet overlord, hurt by economic problems and sanctions, and to protect vital tourism revenues.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Radev said he hoped for good dialogue both with the United States and Russia and expressed hopes that with a new president in Washington, there will be a drop in confrontation between the West and Moscow.
“In his election campaign (Donald Trump), already elected, said clearly that he will work for a better dialogue with Russia. That gives us hope, a big hope, for a peaceful solution to the conflicts both in Syria and in Ukraine and for a decrease of the confrontation,” Radev said.
Although Bulgaria’s economy is expected to grow at a relatively healthy rate of about 3.1-3.3 percent this year, having shaken off recession, it remains the EU’s poorest member, with average wages about 470 euros per month.
Rampant graft in public administration is seen as a key factor slowing the small Black Sea state’s progress in catching up with its wealthier EU peers.November 14, 2016 at 4:25 pm #359635
I think it is a good thing. You can be in NATO and aim to maintain and endorse good relations with Russia.
On the other hand, there must be some kind of sanctions for Russia, to send them clear message that we are not OK with annexation of Crimea. Ukraine is a sovereign country. They should negotiate for special status of Russian minority in Ukraine, and not just steal their land..
But yes, seems that on the EU side, countries are disproportionately affected by the sanctions. The sanctions should be redefined to take of burden from the “poorer” countries.November 14, 2016 at 5:40 pm #359636
Bulgaria should get out of the EU ASAP.November 14, 2016 at 6:26 pm #359637
And not out of NATO?November 14, 2016 at 8:41 pm #359632
We need our sovereignty back. That way we can trade with whomever we wish and kick out whomever we want out of our country.November 15, 2016 at 7:31 am #359631
Is it time to buy Russian Roubles?
It will appreciate sharply if US and EU Sanctions are lifted on Russia.
EU Sanctions can be lifted if one EU nation has the balls to pull the pin on the Sanctions on Russia, could this be Bulgaria with its new Pro-Russia President?
Also, I expect Trump and Putin to form closer ties to knock out ISIS, and this may lead to US Sanctions on Russia being lifted.
If this happens, Rouble will double in value overnight.November 15, 2016 at 7:50 am #359625
The president has mostly ceremonial functions in Bulgaria. It makes no sense that the president, who is elected by the voters directly has no executive power, but the prime minister, who isn’t elected directly does, but modern democracy generally doesn’t make much sense.November 15, 2016 at 9:46 am #359623
Bulgaria is parliamentarian country. @aaaaa is right. President is not a number one politician in Bulgaria. Prime minister is. What’s interesting is that prime minister Boyko resigned after the last election.
Also, social political Bulgarian party is not pro-Russian. It’s rather not anti-Russian.November 23, 2016 at 7:50 pm #368176
My country fucked up…November 24, 2016 at 3:21 pm #401070
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