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Bulgarians head to polls for 3rd parliamentary election of the year

Two previous votes had already taken place in April and July, but the country's largest three parties failed to produce a working coalition government.
Bulgarians will head to the polls on Sunday for their third parliamentary election this year and to elect a new president.

Two previous votes had already taken place in April and July, but the country's largest three parties failed to produce a working coalition government.

Parliament will be dissolved once again and a new caretaker government will be appointed in the European Union member state.

Voters will also elect their new President on November 14, and while Bulgaria's head of state holds little actual power, things have been slightly different for incumbent Rumen Radev.

During a bitter confrontation between Bulgaria's most powerful institutions, the prosecutor's office raided the president's office, resulting in a wave of anti-government protests in the summer of 2020.

Radev was then criticised by his political rivals, ex-Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's GERB party, for meeting with some of the protesters and "dividing the nation for political gain".

According to political expert and ex-presidential adviser Slavi Vassilev, this has, on the contrary, strengthened the presidential institution.

"President Radev fulfilled the role of the presidential institution. He recognised the crowd's demands as legitimate and supported the protests. This makes him a key actor in Bulgaria's political landscape, even though he does not hold power like the prime minister does," Vassilev told Euronews.

The President of Bulgaria usually plays more of a ceremonial role in the political landscape. He is the commander in chief, he can appoint some high-ranking officials and has the right to veto laws, but the veto itself can easily be denied by parliament.

Despite Radev's involvement in the political scene, the political landscape remains very fragmented, to the point where it is currently impossible to form a coalition government.

"The message for change has been the centerpiece of Bulgarian politics for the past year. Political parties in Parliament have even recognised it as a solid basis that could unite the various parties in Parliament," Vassilev added.

Less than a week before the election, Rumen Radev is leading the opinion polls by more than 20%.

However, a landslide victory remains very unlikely, which means an election runoff could be expected.
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