Polls opened at 7am on November 13 in the second round of Bulgaria’s presidential elections, a run-off between Roumen Radev, the nominee of an initiative committee and backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, and Tsetska Tsacheva, of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party.
The second round is a sequel to the November 6 vote, in which there were 21 candidates. None emerged with the 50+1 per cent of the vote that would have meant a first-round victory, hence this Sunday’s run-off, between Radev and Tsacheva, the two who got the most votes at the first round.
As with the first round, Bulgaria’s voters will have the option of rejecting both candidates – by choosing the “I don’t support anyone” box on the ballot paper.
For Bulgaria’s electorate of 6.8 million, voting is compulsory. However, the Central Election Commission has said that those who voted in the first round but who do not vote in the second will be counted as having voted in the November 2016 presidential elections.
Polls close at 8pm (6pm GMT) and exit polls are expected to be announced soon after that.
There are more than 12 300 polling stations in Bulgaria and 325 in 71 foreign countries. Voting in foreign countries is also from 7am to 8pm, based on local times.
The winner of the election will take office in late January 2017, and face a term in office of five years. The constitution says that Bulgaria’s President and Vice-President may be re-elected once to the same office. The current incumbent, President Rossen Plevneliev, in office since January 2012, chose not to seek a second term.
As of the beginning of 2017, Bulgaria’s President will get a salary of close to 9300 leva (about 4750 euro) a month, and the office in central Sofia – at 2 Dondoukov Boulevard, opposite the Cabinet building – that goes with the job.
Bulgaria’s President does not head the government. The constitution requires the holder of the office of head of state to be the “unifier of the nation”.
The constitution makes the President the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The President has a limited power of veto over legislation, which may in turn by overridden by a simple majority vote by the National Assembly.
The President decrees the dates of National Assembly, Bulgaria’s European Parliament, mayoral and municipal elections. However, the constitution bars this happening if fewer than three months remain to the end of the President’s term.
In the event of a government resigning and no new government being formed successfully, the President appoints a caretaker government.
The President may propose changes to the constitution but is not allowed to table any other form of legislation.
The President appoints and dismisses Bulgaria’s ambassadors, on the recommendation of the government, and accepts the credentials of foreign ambassadors to Bulgaria.
The head of state has a share in appointments to various bodies, such as four of the 12 Constitutional Court judges, three members of the governing body of central Bulgarian National Bank, two to the Council for Electronic Media, one member of the Communications Regulation Commission.
On the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, the President appoints the presidents of the Supreme Cassation Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Prosecutor-General.
The head of the State Agency for National Security, the director of the National Intelligence Service, the chief of the National Protection Service and the chief secretary of the Interior Ministry are also appointed by the President, but acting on proposals by the Cabinet.
The President may refer legislation to the Constitutional Court for binding interpretations on its constitutionality.
The Consultative Council on National Security, a statutory body that brings together the Prime Minister, various key Cabinet ministers, leaders of parliamentary groups and security and intelligence chiefs, is convened by the President, who sets the topic and agenda of the meeting.
As the commander-in-chief, the President makes the top appointments in Bulgaria’s armed forces.
The President shall declare a state of war in the event of an armed attack against Bulgaria or in response to the need of urgent honouring of international commitments, or shall proclaim a state of martial law or another state of emergency whenever the National Assembly is not in session. In such cases, the National Assembly shall be convened forthwith to pronounce on the decision, the constitution says.
The President also confers state honours.
The office’s powers also include conferring or withdrawing Bulgarian citizenship, granting asylum, and pardoning uncollectible debt to the state. Customarily, some or all of these powers are delegated to the Vice-President.
Eligibility for the office of President is limited to natural-born Bulgarian citizens who have attained the age of 40 years of age and who possess the electoral qualifications requisite for election as an MP, and who have been resident in Bulgaria during the five years preceding the election.
A President’s term may expire, apart from reaching the end of term, in the event of resignation to the Constitutional Court, continued inability to perform the duties of office, death or impeachment.
Impeachment requires a motion by at least one-fourth of the National Assembly and shall be pursued by the National Assembly if more than two-thirds of the National Assembly have voted in favour.
The Constitutional Court shall consider an impeachment of the President or Vice President within one month after the impeachment has been entered. Should it be established that the President or Vice President have committed high treason or have violated the constitution, the President or Vice President leaves office.