- Title: Russia-friendly political novice wins Bulgaria presidential election-exit polls
- Date: 13th November 2016
- Summary: SOFIA, BULGARIA (NOVEMBER 13, 2016) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTRE CAMERAMEN AUDIENCE WAITING EXIT POLL RESULTS ON LCD SCREEN SHOWING CANDIDATE, RUMEN RADEV, AHEAD PHOTOGRAPHERS VARIOUS OF RADEV ARRIVING AT NEWS CONFERENCE NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, RUMEN RADEV, SAYING: "I understand that this is the beginning of most important mission in my life. To work for a secure, prosperous Bulgaria, in which there is unity and not hatred from the past." NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS IN INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTRE BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER, BOIKO BORISOV, SHOWN ON LCD SCREEN AT NEWS CONFERENCE HALL PLEDGING TO RESIGN JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, RUMEN RADEV, SAYING: "Concerning peace or war, the newly elected president of the U.S. has made statements in his campaign that he will have a better dialogue with Russia. This gives us hope for settlement of conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and for reducing tensions in politics. Let this happen, we all expect it." NEWS CONFERENCE ATTENDEES APPLAUDING
- Embargoed: 28th November 2016 22:34
- Keywords: election vote polls president Boiko Borisov Rumen Radev
- Location: SOFIA, BULGARIA
- City: SOFIA, BULGARIA
- Country: Bulgaria
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00158A329Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Bulgarian Socialist ally Rumen Radev, a Russia-friendly newcomer to politics, won Sunday's (November 13) presidential election by a wide margin, exit polls showed, prompting centre-right Prime Minister Boiko Borisov to pledge to resign.
Radev, 53, entered Bulgarian politics on a wave of discontent with the ruling centre-right's progress in combating corruption, disappointment with the European Union and concerns among voters over alienating an increasingly assertive Russia.
A former air force commander, Radev has argued Bulgaria needs to be pragmatic in balancing the requirements of its European Union and NATO memberships while seeking ways to benefit from a relationship with Moscow.
Exit polls showed Radev, who is backed by the opposition Socialist party, winning 58.1-58.5 percent of the vote, compared with 35.3-35.7 percent for Tsetska Tsacheva, the 58-year-old candidate of the ruling GERB party.
Borisov's resignation would likely lead to an early election as soon as March and could be followed by months by difficult coalition talks among several political groupings.
Coupled with political instability, Bulgaria's tilt towards Russia is a blow to the country's western European allies and underscores Moscow's growing influence in southeastern Europe.
While most of the key decisions in Bulgaria are taken by the government, the president, who leads the armed forces, can sway public opinion and has the power to send legislation back to parliament.
Radev is not advocating NATO member Bulgaria abandon its Western alliances, mindful of the financial impact of EU aid and the country's long history of divided loyalties.
But he has called for an end to EU sanctions against Russia and said Sofia should be pragmatic in its approach to any international law violations by Moscow when it annexed Crimea.
Many in the Balkan country are keen to see restored trade with their former Soviet overlord, hurt by economic problems and sanctions, and to protect vital tourism revenues.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Radev said he hoped for good dialogue both with the United States and Russia and expressed hopes that with a new president in Washington, there will be a drop in confrontation between the West and Moscow.
"Concerning peace or war, the newly elected president of the U.S. has made statements in his campaign that he will have a better dialogue with Russia. This gives us hope for settlement of conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and for reducing tensions in politics," he told journalists in Sofia.
Although Bulgaria's economy is expected to grow at a relatively healthy rate of about 3.1-3.3 percent this year, having shaken off recession, it remains the EU's poorest member, with average wages about 470 euros per month.
Rampant graft in public administration is seen as a key factor slowing the small Black Sea state's progress in catching up with its wealthier EU peers.
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