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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 15:46 GMT
Bulgaria leader wins second term
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov
Mr Parvanov's triumph strengthens the Socialist party's hand
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov has won a second five-year term, beating a nationalist opponent with a landslide victory in the run-up to EU membership.

Mr Parvanov, a former Socialist leader, took 76% of the votes in Sunday's election, while Attack party leader Volen Siderov got 24%.

The presidency is mainly ceremonial, as the prime minister wields most power.

Voter turnout was just 41% - a sign of widespread anger with the political elite, a BBC correspondent says.

Mr Parvanov, 49, now leads an awkward coalition with the mainly Turkish Movement of Rights and Freedoms and the party of the former King Simeon.

Nationalists gain ground

President Parvanov has been credited with keeping the country on the reform path necessary to satisfy the EU.

But his nationalist opponent Volen Siderov has been considerably strengthened by this result, the BBC's Nick Thorpe says.

If EU membership proves as painful for some parts of society in Bulgaria as it has in other new members, the far right could make further gains, he adds.

Mr Parvanov won the first round of voting two weeks ago, but a turnout of less than 50% forced a second round.

The first round broke the traditional centre-left versus centre-right mould of Bulgarian politics.

The centre-right candidate was relegated to a poor third - the climax of years of division between several parties and personalities - allowing Mr Siderov to emerge as Mr Parvanov's main challenger.

Mr Parvanov is respected for his efforts to raise Bulgaria's international profile ahead of Nato and EU membership.

Although Mr Siderov, 50, said he did not oppose EU membership, he wanted some chapters of the accession agreement revised in Bulgaria's favour.

He campaigned on issues which also concern Brussels, like deep-seated corruption.

"We face the choice of letting the mafia rule us for five more years or eliminating it," Mr Siderov said on Friday.

He is also very critical of Bulgaria's large Turkish and Roma gypsy minorities.

Such policies have led to opponents describing Mr Siderov as a racist and xenophobe.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Bulgaria
30 Oct 06 |  Country profiles
Profile: Georgi Parvanov
19 Nov 01 |  Europe



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