The Socialist Party’s candidate appears to have won the first round of Bulgaria’s Presidential elections on Sunday. At least half of Bulgaria’s eligible voters went to the polls.  General Rumen Radev got between 24,8 and 26,7% according to exit polls.

A runoff election will take place on November 13, which Radev is expected to win. The candidate favoured by the government, Tsetska Tsacheva, got 22,5%.

Radev,53, is a former air force commander and an MIG fighter jet pilot. He campaigned on a promise to promote closer relations with Russia and will call for the lifting of sanctions against Russia. However, he insists that does not mean drifting away from Euro-Atlantic values.

Although the Presidency is largely a ceremonial post, the Socialists will now seek new legislative elections.

The ruling center-right GERB is leading a minority government, and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov promised to resign if Tsacheva lost; on Sunday evening, Borisov reiterated his threat.

Besides a President, Bulgarians voted for a number of issues in a simultaneous referendum.

79% of Bulgarians voted in favour of a majoritarian electoral system; 70% voted for a mandatory voting system; 80% for the reduction of state subsidies for political parties. The result appears to be valid, as more than 50% of Bulgarians went to the polls.