Roumen Radev, the candidate of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, has won a landslide victory in the country’s November 2016 presidential elections, defeating Tsetska Tsacheva, the nominee of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party.
Borissov repeated, after voting in the second round of the elections on November 13, that his government would resign if Tsacheva lost the elections.
According to an Alpha Research exit poll released soon after voting ended at 8pm, Radev got 58.1 per cent and Tsacheva 35.3 per cent. Turnout was seen by the exit poll as 48.7 per cent by 7pm.
Bulgarian voters had a third option, instead of choosing either candidate, of voting “I don’t support anyone”. About 6.6 per cent chose this option, according to Alpha Research.
Borissov, whose party delayed until close to the deadline for registering its candidate before announcing who it would be, had repeatedly bet his government’s political fate on victory or loss.
First, several weeks ago, Borissov said that his government would resign if his candidate did not emerge top at the first round. He more recently amended this to saying that his government would resign if GERB lost at the second round.
Borissov bet, in effect, that his party – still seen by polls as the most-supported in Bulgaria – could name even a weak candidate and still win. He named Tsacheva, Speaker of the National Assembly, long seen in the polls as hardly among Bulgaria’s most popular politicians.
Borissov has lost the bet.
Before Tsacheva’s name was announced, one public opinion poll said that whoever GERB’s candidate was, that candidate was certain to win. Several political commentators echoed this.
They were wrong.
Presuming that Borissov now follows through on his promise – it was unclear as polls closed whether he would do so immediately or wait some time, perhaps for official results – it will become the task of the President to three times offer a mandate to seek to form a government.
The first mandate would go to GERB, as the largest party in the National Assembly. Should that be refused or nothing come of it within a week, the next mandate to the next-largest party, the BSP. Similarly, should nothing come of this, President Rossen Plevneliev will have the right to offer a mandate to a third parliamentary party of his choice.
Should this process end without result, Plevneliev would appoint a caretaker government. But because he is in his final three months of his term, the constitution would not allow him to dissolve Parliament. That would be the right only of President Radev, who takes office in the second half of January 2017.
With Parliament then dissolved, and possibly a new caretaker government appointed, Bulgaria would face National Assembly elections possibly around late March or the first half of April.