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Bulgaria

Yearbook 2016

2016 BulgariaBulgaria. 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.

2016 Bulgaria

According to 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 won.

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.

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