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Bulgaria’s Borisov seeks third time lucky

Update: March, 27/2017 - 11:00
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev (right, front) attends the voting at a polling station in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, on Sunday. The center-right GERB party is leading in the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria on Sunday, winning about one third of the votes, according to exit polls announced at the Bulgarian National TV channel. — XINHUA/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

SOFIA — Bulgaria’s veteran political bruiser Boyko Borisov is due on Monday to begin tough talks to form a lasting government and become prime minister for the third time.

On Sunday Borisov’s pro-EU centre-right GERB party came first in a snap election in the European Union’s poorest country with 33 per cent of the vote, according to projections from polling firms

Borisov, a former firefighter and bodyguard, saw off a stiff challenge from the Socialist Party (BSP), seen as closer to Moscow, which garnered 28 per cent.

"I hope we can ensure the rapid formation of a government that responds to the wishes of the people and to the grave international situation," Borisov said late on Sunday.

But whether the 57-year-old can form an administration - and one that stays the course and is effective, unlike his previous two attempts – remains to be seen.

Bulgaria, where the average monthly salary is just 500 euros (US$540) and corruption is rife even after 10 years in the EU, has now seen three elections in four years.

In the first half of next year, Bulgaria will hold the rotating presidency of the EU in the midst of Britain’s negotiations with Brussels on the terms of its exit from the bloc.

Borisov has long dominated national politics, serving as premier from 2009 to 2013 and again from 2014 to 2017.

But both times Borisov quit early, first in 2013 after mass protests and then last November after his candidate for the presidency was beaten by an air force commander backed by the BSP.

And his reform efforts, in particular in meeting Brussels’ demands to tackle corruption and organised crime, failed to get off the ground both times.

In the campaign, Borisov ruled out a tie-up with the centrist Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MDL) party representing Bulgaria’s Turkish minority which came third or fourth with around 9.5 per cent.

Potential partners include the United Patriots, also on some 9.5 per cent, and Veselin Mareshki, a charismatic businessman who likes being called the Bulgarian Donald Trump.

It is unclear however whether Mareshki’s party, Volya ("Will") cleared the 4-per cent hurdle needed to gain seats in parliament. Official results is due from Monday.  AFP


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