All eyes in Bulgaria are on the ultra-nationalist leader Volen Siderov, who says he expects to win this Sunday’s second round of the presidential race. He gained 21.5 per cent of the vote last Sunday, well behind the incumbent, but his relative success has sent a shockwave.
His party is scornful of Turkish and Roma minorities and critical of EU membership. The election has highlighted tensions in the country over EU membership just two months before official entry. Georgi Parvanov, former head of the ruling Socialists and running as an independent, made EU membership his main campaign platform.
He gained 64 percent of the vote in the first round and – barring a major surprise – is likely to emerge the first Bulgarian president to win re-election. He has refused to face Siderov in debate, saying they come from “different political cultures”. He has warned against the threat posed by the radical vote against Bulgaria’s minorities. The second round run-off is taking place because voter turnout was just 42.5 per cent , well below the 50 per cent needed.