In Bulgaria first official election results appear to show the ruling conservative party’s candidate on course to comfortably win the first round of the presidential election.
Rosen Plevneliev is set to replace the current socialist president who remains the only high-profile voice challenging the GERB party’s grip on power.
If the initial results are borne out Plevneliev will face the socialist former foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin in a head-to-head run off at the end of the month. First results put the GERB candidate on nearly 40 per cent of the vote, 10 points ahead.
But the socialists are bouncing back in popularity and could provide a real challenge in general elections in 2013.
The presidential post is largely symbolic. The real power lies with Prime Minister Boiko Borisov – a karate black belt who won power in 2009 after campaigning as a ‘man of the people.’
But ever since he has been struggling to deal with corruption and unemployment, and his popularity ratings have slipped.