9:13 a.m., November 22, 2021
At the Bulgarian presidential election on Sunday is incumbent Rumen Radew was confirmed in office with a clear majority. The left-wing ex-general prevailed in the runoff election against the rector of the University of Sofia, Anastas Gerdschikow, with 63.9 and 65.7 percent of the vote, respectively, according to two exit polls published on Sunday evening. The challenger Gerdschikow admitted his defeat even before the official results were available.
Bulgaria is now on the path of “development, freedom and modernization,” said Radew. After the early parliamentary elections a week ago, society expects “a clear political majority” to take immediate judicial reforms. He warned that no social and economic crisis should be allowed this winter. Radew’s second five-year term begins in January.
Radev’s victory was expected after he missed the required absolute majority in the first election round a week ago by only a few tenths of a percentage point. The protest parties who won the parliamentary elections last Sunday and now want to form a new government stood behind the incumbent. Radev’s confirmation is another setback for the camp of the corrupt ex-prime minister Boyko Borissov, who had determined political events in the country for more than a decade.
According to initial surveys, the voter turnout was less than 40 Percent and thus even lower than in the first round of voting a week ago. However, this has no effect on the validity of the runoff election. A minimum participation of 50 percent was required in the first ballot. With official final results was not to be expected on election night.
Radew had presented himself as a courageous anti-corruption fighter during the election campaign. The president supported the anti-corruption protests against the Borisov government in the summer of 2020. He should now work closely with the emerging new government. “Rumen Radew is the president with whom the change will continue”, said the co-leader of the new anti-corruption party “We are continuing the change” PP, Kiril Petkov. This is likely the new head of government in Bulgaria.
In the week between the two ballots, there was the only television duel between the two candidates of the same age, Radew and Gerdschikow. It was primarily about the fight against corruption. Both Radew and Gerdschikow spoke out in favor of a far-reaching judicial reform. Radew has announced a constitutional amendment several times, but without giving details. Observers assume that it is about the introduction of the constitutional complaint. During his first official visit to Vienna two years ago, this was one of the main topics in talks with Radew.
Gerdschikow suspected other ambitions of the incumbent and accused him several times during the election campaign of trying to change the form of the state to a presidential republic. A corresponding constitutional amendment was only not submitted to parliament because Bulgaria has been in a permanent crisis since the spring after two failed parliaments.
In the explosive foreign policy question of the veto against the start of EU accession negotiations with neighboring North Macedonia, Radew wants to support Sofia’s previous policy. The incumbent caused a stir with the statement that “Crimea currently belongs to Russia”. Radew, who won the presidential elections in 2016 thanks to the support of the socialist, formerly communist party, is considered a politician close to Russia. He has often criticized the EU sanctions against Russia as “ineffective” and emphasized that Germany, for example, is still handling major economic projects with Russia.