Bulgarian President Radev to seek a second term

SOFIA (AFP) – Bulgarian President Rumen Radev (pic below) said yesterday that he would run for a second five-year term of office in presidential elections this autumn.

Radev, a 57-year-old former pilot and commander-in-chief of the Bulgarian Air Force, is a vehement critic of incumbent conservative Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

He has strongly backed months-long street protests against Borisov’s outgoing conservative government ahead of parliamentary elections on April 4.

“The April parliamentary vote poses to people the dilemma whether to accept or overthrow the current model of power: centred on one man, shady, repressive, corrupt, wasteful and unfair to the ordinary Bulgarian,” Radev told a press conference on the four-year anniversary of his taking office.

He went on to announce his “intention to run for a second mandate” and pressed for “a powerful political alternative” to the current government which would “strengthen the rule of law”. The president said he expects to be backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist party, as happened when he was first elected, but that he would only enter negotiations with the party after the election.

Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic and, apart from being the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the head of state has a largely ceremonial role.

Bulgarian presidents are usually put forward by political parties but can also run as independent candidates.

A poll by the Alpha Research institute published in January showed Radev’s personal approval rating has risen to 46 per cent, compared to just 14 per cent for Borisov’s government.

Borisov’s traditionally high personal rating has, meanwhile, slumped to 23.5 per cent after the protests and a series of corruption allegations directed against him over the past year – all of which he has denied.

Alpha Research however forecast a slim victory for Borisov’s GERB party in April’s vote with 24 to 28 per cent of the vote, followed by the Socialists, now polling at 22-25 per cent.

A new populist party There Is Such A Nation is on 10-12 per cent and the Turkish minority Movement for Rights and Freedoms party is polling between seven and 10 per cent.