The candidate of the socialist BSP party, Rumen Radev, won the first round of the presidential elections in Bulgaria with 25.6% of the vote, preliminary election results based on 60% of the votes showed, according to the central election commission (CEC). The candidate of the senior ruling party GERB Tsetska Tsacheva got 22.5%. There was a surprisingly strong support of 15.1% for the nationalist candidate Krasimir Karakachanov as well as for independent candidate Veselin Mareshki who came fourth with 10.7%. He was followed by the candidate of the rightist Reformist Bloc Traycho Traykov and by the candidate supported by ethnic-minority MRF Plamen Oresharski. Traykov’s votes disappointed on the downside as well as the support for the leftist ABV candidate Ivaylo Kalfin, seemingly because a large share of supporters of the two parties voted for Radev, according to pollsters.
As we reported, PM Boyko Borisov had threatened to withdraw in case that GERB’s candidate Tsacheva loses the first round of the elections. Borisov, however, offered a different interpretation to his earlier statement and did not announce a resignation. Instead, he said that the government will resign in case Tsatcheva loses the second round. Statements by political parties after the first round, including from opposition BSP, showed that the parties generally do not want early elections, in our opinion. Influential members of GERB – regional development minister Lilyana Pavlova and FinMin Vladislav Goranov, also signalled that the party does not have a united position on resigning after the polls.
We think that the runoff between Radev and Tsacheva will be tight and it will be difficult to predict the winner. The Reformist Bloc already supported Tsacheva while we think that Tsacheva could also count on support from some of the nationalist voters as well. On the other hand, Radev will most likely attract the ethnic-minority votes of MRF, which will maintain the overall result unpredictable, in our view.