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UPDATED: Bulgaria to hold presidential election on Nov.14

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Bulgaria will hold a presidential election on Nov. 14, lawmakers decided on Thursday, as the politically fractured country also gears up for a snap parliamentary election likely to take place in the same month.

Bulgaria holds votes for the presidency, a largely ceremonial position, every five years. Incumbent Rumen Radev, who has maintained high approval ratings since he was elected in 2016, is running for a second five-year term.

He is supported by the Socialists and the anti-establishment ITN party, and is an ardent critic of former premier Boyko Borissov, an establishment figure of the centre-right who led the Balkan country for most of the past decade until April.

Inconclusive parliamentary elections in that month led to the appointment of an interim government by Radev, who in 2020 supported huge anti-graft protests against Borissov’s administration.

Snap national polls in July again produced a hung parliament and Bulgaria now looks set to hold its third national election of 2021 in November.

The prolonged political uncertainty is hampering Bulgaria’s ability to efficiently deal with a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and tap into hefty European Union’s coronavirus recovery funds.

A former air force commander, Radev, 58, has become one of Bulgaria’s most popular politicians amid a widespread discontent at corruption in the EU’s poorest country.

Other political parties, including Borissov’s GERB, which has accused Radev of dividing the nation, have yet to announce their candidates for president.