SOFIA, Bulgaria, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Rumen Radev, a newcomer to politics, won Bulgaria's presidential election, prompting Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to resign.
Exit polls Sunday said Radev's Socialist Party won 58 percent of the votes. The ruling center-right GERB Party's candidate, Tsetska Tsacheva, received 35 percent in the runoff election. With Borisov's resignation, outgoing President Rosen Plevneliev is expected to form a caretaker government, with another election planned for March.
While the Bulgarian presidency is largely a ceremonial position, the president can influence public opinion and reject legislation.
Radev, a former commander of Bulgaria's air force, said he will keep the country in NATO and the European Union but has said that "being pro-European does not mean being anti-Russian."
The election can be seen as a rejection of Bulgaria's Western allies and demonstrates Moscow's growing power in southeastern Europe.
Bulgaria is the EU's poorest member, and Radev has said he seeks closer ties to Moscow to help his country's struggling economy, as well as an end to EU sanctions on Russia. His election victory reflects widespread disapproval of the party in power's record on alleviating poverty and government corruption, the BBC said Monday.
On Sunday evening, Radev indicated he was optimistic about Bulgaria's relationship with both Washington and Moscow.
"In his election campaign (Donald Trump), already elected, said clearly that he will work for a better dialogue with Russia. That gives us hope, a big hope, for a peaceful solution to the conflicts both in Syria and in Ukraine and for a decrease of the confrontation," Radev said.
Radev will take office on Jan. 22 and will serve a five-year term.