Former King Simeon II has proclaimed victory in Bulgaria's parliamentary elections. Preliminary results give the Simeon National Movement at least 45 percent of the vote. Outgoing Prime Minister Ivan Kostov conceded defeat late Sunday, after preliminary results showed his ruling center-right Union of Democratic Forces getting about 20 percent of the vote. The Socialist Party of former communists was third with about 16 percent.
The National Movement for Simeon II, which is only two-months old, fielded a list of candidates with little or no political experience. Even so, the initial results indicate that most Bulgarian voters, weary after a decade of economic belt-tightening under both left and right-leaning politicians, were eager for a change.
Mr. Simeon promised jobs, higher salaries, and tax cuts. His opponents said he was making promises he cannot keep.
The 64-year-old former king, who returned to Bulgaria from exile in Spain earlier this year, was not a candidate for a seat in the 240-member single-chamber parliament. It remains unclear what role he expects to play in the government, if these initial results are confirmed and his party wins a majority.
More than 5,000 candidates representing 50-political parties and coalitions contested the election.
The Central Election Commission is expected to issue final results Wednesday.