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Bulgaria

Bulgarian president appoints interim prime minister, calls for early elections

President Rumen Radev has set March 26 as the date for early elections, and tapped a former parliament speaker as caretaker head of government. However, the upcoming vote looks unlikely to deliver a unified government.

Just two days after taking office, ex-air force chief and political newcomer Rumen Radev has named Ognyan Gerdzhikov, a law professor and head of an arbitration court, as interim prime minister until the results of the early general election can be delivered.

Gerdzhikov's cabinet, which is expected to be announced before the end of the week, will be responsible for organizing the March vote.

The previous center-right government resigned in November after losing the presidential poll to the socialist-backed Radev, but the date for new parliamentary elections could only be set after Radev assumed office on January 22.

Radev's decree officially dissolving the parliament will go into effect this Friday.

Bulgarien Ognjan Gerdschikow Parlamentssprecher (Reuters/J. Lazarova)

Gerdzhikov will take over as interim prime minister

Upcoming vote

Though Gerdzhikov's appointment indicates continuity and stability as the guiding policies of the interim government, the upcoming election is unlikely to deliver a strong majority government capable of undertaking much-needed reforms.

Voters have been particularly frustrated by the government's failure to rein in corruption.

At present, polls show the conservative GERB party slightly ahead of the Socialist party. It will be the country's third parliamentary election since 2013.

In the meantime, the pro-Russian Radev could seek to strengthen relations between Sofia and Moscow. However, the new president also recently reaffirmed his commitment to Bulgaria's EU and NATO allies.

cmb/cmk (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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