Bulgaria presidential election win by rightwinger clears way for reform
Baku, 31 October (AZERTAC). Rosen Plevneliev, former entrepreneur and construction minister, secures presidency after old-guard socialist candidate concedes. Rosen Plevneliev, right, winning presidential candidate of Bulgaria`s rightwing ruling GERB party and Ivailo Kalfin, left, presidential candidate of the opposition Socialist party during separate news conferences in Sofia. A former entrepreneur has emerged as the clear winner in the run-off election for Bulgaria`s presidency, after exit polls indicated he had won and his socialist challenger conceded defeat. Rosen Plevneliev`s victory means the ruling party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, known as GERB, now controls all the major posts, and has bolstered its push for painful economic reforms in a country where the average monthly salary is £426, unemployment is 11.7%, and levels of corruption remain high.
Three exit polls gave Plevneliev around 54.8% of the votes, while indicating 45.2% of voters cast ballots for Ivailo Kalfin. The central election commission estimated turnout at 42%. Official results are due on Monday, but Kalfin conceded defeat after the exit polling. "The result is clear; we did not win the elections," he said. Although most of the power in the Balkan country of 7.4 million rests with the prime minister and parliament, the president leads the armed forces and can veto legislation and sign international treaties. Plevneliev, 47,has been lauded for pushing through several large-scale infrastructure projects as regional development minister in the incumbent cabinet. He has pledged to reduce the budget deficit and pursue business-friendly policies. He also said he would do his best to unite Bulgarians in pursuit of reforms in justice and health care, while also diversifying energy supplies and improving trade.
"Bulgaria`s European future means that the president should guarantee equal chances for the development of all regions in the country," Plevneliev said on Sunday. Prime minister Boiko Borisov said that by electing Plevneliev, "Bulgarians supported Bulgaria`s stability and its European development." The winner replaces Georgi Parvanov, a former leader of the Socialist party, who has often criticized the government and used his powers to veto legislation or judicial office or diplomatic service appointments. Parvanov has served two five-year terms, the legal limit. If final results confirm Plevneliev, he would take office on January 23.