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In Bulgaria, an anti-corruption party surprises the legislative elections

A confirmation and a surprise. If the outgoing Bulgarian president, Roumen Radev, largely won, as expected, the first round of the presidential ballot organized on Sunday, November 14 in this Balkan country, the centrist anti-corruption candidate Kiril Petkov, for his part, achieved an unexpected performance by coming first. legislative elections organized on the same day.

According to polling institutes, the 41-year-old businessman and Harvard graduate is in a good position to become prime minister, the most important post in the Bulgarian political system. His centrist party, “We continue to change”, obtained about 26% of the vote and comes before the conservative party Gerb, of Boïko Borissov, credited with about 23%. The latter, who was prime minister until April, suffered from the countless corruption scandals that marked his ten years of successive mandates.

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In contrast, Mr. Petkov claimed victory on Sunday evening by promising “To stop corruption and make the Bulgarian judicial system work”. “There is a majority. Bulgaria will be governed by a regular cabinet ”, he promised, while the country has been under interim government since April after two legislative elections – in April and July – which did not lead to any stable majority. Organized on Sunday, the third election in a year was marked by a historically low turnout.

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A catch-all program

Mr Petkov was Minister of the Economy in the interim government until September. In this post, he has participated in recent months in the great enterprise of unpacking corruption cases organized by the interim power. With his popularity and his look of ideal son-in-law always smiling, he then embarked on the campaign by creating his training with the Minister of Finance Assen Vassilev, a former comrade of Harvard.

Both men are entrepreneurs. Raised in Canada, Mr. Petkov specialized in real estate and probiotics, Mr. Vassilev in airline booking websites. “This is the first time in Bulgarian politics that we have a party with businessmen trained in the West and then returned to the country., explains political scientist Ivan Krastev. They are probusiness, but with a social sensitivity. Their program is actually vague enough to catch all types of voters. “

Beyond the fight against corruption, the duo defend a mooring “In the European Union and in NATO”, which is important in a country where the pro-Russian camp remains influential, but they remain very vague on issues that divide Bulgarian society such as LGBT rights. To take power, Mr. Petkov will also probably have to form a coalition with three parties with very different profiles.

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