The former prime minister of Bulgaria verged on retaking power Sunday as his center-right party held a narrow lead in a contested election, a sign that Bulgarians still see their future lying with the European Union. While official results were not expected until Monday, it appeared that the former leader, Boiko Borisov, would form a new government in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member, probably in a coalition with an alliance of smaller right-wing nationalist parties. The Socialists, who had advocated stronger ties with Russia and had vowed to block a renewal of European Union sanctions against the Kremlin, could not convince enough voters that they were the better alternative and conceded defeat.
The result appeared to be a disappointment for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who has sought to exploit divisions in the European Union to strengthen Russia’s influence — particularly in a country like Bulgaria, which was one of the Soviet Union’s closest allies.
Mr. Borisov, 57, a burly former firefighter and bodyguard of the country’s former Communist leader, has been a leading figure in Bulgarian politics for over a decade. While many Bulgarians are unhappy about the country’s endemic corruption, they nonetheless saw Mr. Borisov and his party, the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, known by its acronym, Gerb, as preferable for leading the country.
Full Article: Bulgaria’s Ex-Premier Nears Return to Power in a Key Election for Europe – The New York Times.