Bulgaria votes for a new President
The presidential election to be held today could well go to a second round if the most recent opinion polls are to be believed. Although the president holds few executive powers, he is the commander in chief of the armed forces, can call elections and has some veto over legislation.
Incumbent President, Rosen Plevneliev announced in May 2016 that he would not be running for re-election.
At one point it seemed as though the election would be a straightforward election of the ruling party’s candidate. However, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of the ruling centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) left it very late to announce that the somewhat uncharismatic Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Bulgaria, Tsetska Tsacheva, would be the party’s candidate.
Since then opinion polls have shown that GERB has been losing support and that the main opposition centre-left Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) candidate General Rumen Radev has been catching up.
The main contenders, from a field of 21 candidates, with the opinion poll ratings from a Gallup International Balkans poll are as follows:
Tsetska Tsacheva; Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) 27.2%
Rumen Radev; Independent but supported by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) 23.1%
Krasimir Karakachanov; United Patriots (far-right party) 11.5%
Veselin Mareshki; Independent and businessman 7.6%
Plamen Oresharski; Independent, former Prime Minister and with the backing of the Movement of Rights and Freedoms (MRF) 7.3%
For the first time voters can vote for none of the above and the poll gives this 5.7%.
If the election goes to a second round runoff then this will be held on 13th November.
There are 307 polling stations abroad at diplomatic missions and in Bulgaria the 12,418 polling stations will be open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time with an extension of an extra hour if people are still waiting to vote. In the presidential election there are 6,834,278 eligible voters. A constitutional referendum is also taking place today and for that there are 6,832,288 eligible voters.