It was a victory for the clear favourite but Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov faces a run-off vote after failing to secure an outright win in yesterday’s presidential election. He claimed around 64 percent of the vote. His nearest rival – Volen Siderov of the xenophobic Attack party – won only about 23 percent. But a turnout of just 42 percent mains the pair will have to stand again. Under Bulgarian law at least 50 percent of the electorate must vote for any candidate to secure a first-round victory.
The strong showing by Siderov, who opposes Bulgaria’s forthcoming entry to the EU is unsettling for both Brussels and Sofia. His campaign also targeted the country’s ethnic Turkish and Roma minorities. Parvanov is expected to win the second ballot next Sunday. Victory would make him the first Bulgarian President to win a second term and consolidate his ruling Socialist allies as the nation prepares for EU adhesion on January 1.
Voter disillusionment over poverty and the slow pace of reform is considered the main reason for the low turnout. Although widely popular, Parvanov’s critics say he has failed to push successive cabinets to clamp down on high-level corruption and organised crime.