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Bulgarians vote in snap election

March 26, 2017 - BULGARIA

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.

Bulgarian president appoints interim prime minister, calls for early elections (DW 24 Jan 2017)

Bulgaria seen as most corrupt in EU (EU Observer 27 Jan 2017)

Bulgaria presidential candidate vows to improve relations with Russia (Reuters 24 Oct 2016)

Date written/update: 2017-01-26