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Exit Polls: Ruling Party Candidate Leads Presidential Race

The three main candidates in Bulgaria's presidential race (from left to right): Ivaylo Kalfin, Meglena Kuneva, and Rosen Plevneliev
The candidate of Bulgaria's ruling right-wing GERB party, Rosen Plevneliev, is the favorite to win the country's presidency, according to the first exit polls.

Gallup exit polls suggest that Plevneliev, a popular former construction minister, is leading the vote with 41.1-percent support, ahead of socialist candidate and European deputy Ivaylo Kalfin on 26.8 percent.

Bulgaria's former European Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, who ran as an independent candidate, was trailing in third with 15.5 percent.

The vote looks to be heading for a second round run-off on October 30 because no candidate seems to have got 51 percent of the vote, and voter turnout failed to reach 50 percent.

The winner of this election will replace outgoing President Georgy Parvanov, who is stepping down after serving two successive terms.

Amid concerns about vote fraud and manipulations of the electoral process, international observers are monitoring the vote in the European Union member country for the first time in years.

compiled from agency reports