The election comes amid widespread outcry against high-level corruption that ended the decade-long rule of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in April.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev is heading for a comfortable re-election, according to exit polls from the country’s second round of presidential elections on Sunday.
After an almost straight victory in the first round on November 14, Radev, 58, led his rival Anastas Gerdzhikov, who was 58, by 64 to 66 percent.
The election follows widespread outcry against high-level corruption that ended former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s decade-long rule in April and led to the victory of a new anti-corruption party in last week’s parliamentary elections.
The presidency is largely formal but provides a powerful platform for influencing public opinion.
The president becomes prominent in times of political crisis, when the head of state can appoint an interim cabinet.
Radev gained popularity in 2020 for publicly supporting mass anti-corruption protests against Borisov and for appointing an interim government that highlighted the vague public procurement deals in Borisov’s last center-right cabinet.
Barisov has denied any wrongdoing.
Gordzhikov, rector of Sophia University, backed by Borisov’s GERB party, accused Radev of resisting the Bulgarians against each other. He promised to unite the nation, which has suffered from the worst coronavirus deaths in the European Union and rising energy costs.
Radev, two Harvard-educated entrepreneurs who were appointed interim ministers in May, has since formed the We Continue the Change Party (PP), which won Bulgaria’s third national election on November 14 this year, with a promise of “zero corruption”.
Radev, a former NATO fighter pilot who studied for a time at the U.S. Air War College in Alabama, has vowed to retain Bulgaria’s place in the Western alliance if re-elected.
He emphasized the need to focus on Russia, and said that it was even more important now with the crisis over sanctions.