Bulgaria. A new electoral law was adopted in April as an
attempt to stop a trend of declining turnout. The law
contained a form of voting duty which meant that those who
did not participate in an election would fall out of the
voting list and had to re-register in order to vote in
future elections. The law helped Prime Minister Boiko
Borisov's center-right government lose its majority in
parliament in May when the smaller coalition partner
mid-left party ABV withdrew its support. Deputy Prime
Minister Ivailo Kalfin, who belonged to ABV, also voiced
criticism of what he called an overly Western-friendly
foreign and security policy and the lack of reforms to
restructure the economy.
countryaah, ABV's resignation was seen by other government members as
part of a left-wing assembly ahead of this fall's
presidential election, and they accused the center-left
party of forming a Russian-friendly alliance with the
Socialist Party and the ethnic Turkish party DPS.
Bulgaria's relationship with the Russian Federation, on
the one hand, and the EU and NATO on the other, formed a
sharp political dividing line. Plans for increased NATO
efforts were disputed, with divisions within the government
as to how large the country would play in regional defense
efforts. Bulgaria withdrew from a joint patrol plan in the
Black Sea, and in August the commander of the Air Force,
Rumen Radev, resigned in protest of allowing other NATO
countries - primarily the United States - to monitor the
airspace over Bulgaria.
Shortly after his departure, Radev was named Socialist
Party candidate in the presidential election. Radev, who was
also a fighter pilot, had no background in politics, but
opposed, among other things, EU sanctions against the
Russian Federation and advocated a rapprochement with
Moscow. Prime Minister Borisov threatened to resign if Radev
In September, US fighter jets participated for the first
time in aviation patrol with the Bulgarian Air Force in a
new front to deter Russian aggression.
In the first round of the presidential elections in
November, 21 candidates participated. Radev received the
most votes, followed by Parliament's Speaker Tsetska
Tsatjeva, who was the dominant Conservative government party
GERB's candidate. In the decisive election round a week
later Radev won with 59% of the vote. As a result, Borisov
immediately filed his resignation application.
Despite the new law on voting duty, turnout was no more
than 56% in the first round and 50% in the second.
In December, outgoing President Rosen Plevneliev gave up
his attempts to establish an interim government.