Two days after taking office on Jan 22, President Rumen Radev announced the March date for early elections. The vote for the 240-seat unicameral National Assembly is not expected to deliver a strong majority government that can undertake much-needed reforms.
Voters are reported to be particularly frustrated by the government's failure to rein in corruption. The European Observer notes that Bulgaria, which assumes the 6-month presidency of the European Union in 2018, is seen as the most corrupt country in the bloc.
The previous center-right government resigned in November after losing the presidential poll to the Socialist-backed Radev, an ex-air force chief and a political newcomer.
At present, polls show the major parties neck-and-neck, with the conservative GERB (Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria) party slightly ahead of the Socialists in a field of some 16 parties.
Reuters reports that pro-Russian Radev could seek to strengthen relations between Sofia and Moscow. He has also recently reaffirmed his commitment to Bulgaria's European Union and NATO allies.
Date written/update: 2017-01-26