Nov 14, 2016 4:49AM ESTpublished: Nov 14, 2016 4:25AM EST
Bulgaria’s prime minister handed in his resignation to parliament Monday after results showed his party losing badly in the presidential runoff, opening the way for an early parliamentary election.
Boiko Borisov’s move comes after official results show Socialist-backed candidate Rumen Radev, a former non-partisan air force chief, winning the presidential election.
“We accept the will of the people and we congratulate those who have the support of the majority of the voters,” said Borisov, whose party had previously triumphed in all national elections over the last decade.
Halfway into its four-year term, Borisov’s coalition government has managed to restore political stability after months of anti-corruption protests. But its popularity has faded because of the slow pace of reforms to eliminate graft and poverty, and overhaul the judicial system.
Radev called the result “a negative vote for the government that leads to a new political situation.”
The Central Election Commission said that with 99.3 per cent of the ballots counted, Radev won 59.4 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff, compared with 36.2 per cent for the candidate of the ruling centre-right party, Tsetska Tsacheva.
Radev, who will take office for a five-year term on Jan. 22, will face a possible rise in migrants from neighbouring Turkey and growing tensions between Russia and the West.
A political novice, Radev attracted many Bulgarians who are fed up with corrupt politicians. The former NATO fighter pilot, who once studied at the U.S. Air War College in Alabama, has pledged to maintain Bulgaria’s place in NATO but also says “being pro-European doesn’t mean being anti-Russian.”
“During his election campaign, the U.S. president-elect said categorically that he is going to have a deeper dialogue with Russia,” Radev said after the vote and added that “it gives strong hope for a peaceful solution of the conflicts in Syria and in Ukraine, and reducing confrontation.”
In nearby Moldova, a pro-Russia candidate declared victory in the country’s presidential election, also on Sunday. Igor Dodon has pledged to restore trade and political relations with Moscow, which cooled after Moldova signed a trade association agreement with the European Union.
Political analyst Dimitar Bechev said after the vote in Bulgaria that “there will be no shortage of drama in Bulgaria over the coming months, to be sure, but it will be driven by local forces, not the geopolitical contest between Russia and the West.”
This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.