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Politically Fractured Bulgaria Sets Date For Presidential Vote


Bulgarian President Rumen Radev addresses the media as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels on June 24.

SOFIA -- Bulgaria's parliament has set November 14 as the date for a presidential election as the country also gears up for its third parliamentary vote this year, after political parties gave up efforts to form a governing coalition following inconclusive polls.

Lawmakers decided on the date for the vote on September 2, adding that a runoff, if needed, will be held a week later.

Incumbent Rumen Radev, who has maintained high approval ratings since his election in 2016, is running for a second five-year term for the largely ceremonial position.

Radev, a 58-year-old former air force commander, is supported by the anti-establishment ITN party and the Socialists, and is an ardent critic of former long-serving Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of the center-right GERB party.

Other political parties have yet to announce their candidates for president.

Borisov led the Eastern European country for most of the past decade until April, when inconclusive parliamentary elections led to the appointment of an interim government by Radev.

Snap national polls in July again produced a fractured parliament and Bulgaria now looks set to hold its third general elections in November after three attempts by ITN, GERB, and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) to build a majority in the National Assembly failed.

Radev still has to set a date for the parliamentary elections.

The prolonged political uncertainty could hamper the European Union's poorest member state's ability to effectively deal with a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and tap the bloc's multibillion-euro coronavirus recovery fund.

In the July 11 elections, the ITN won 65 seats in the fragmented 240-member parliament, ahead of GERB's 63 seats and the BSP's 36.

With reporting by Reuters
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