October 17, 2016 / 12:21 PM / a year ago

Close runoff likely in Bulgarian presidential race - pollsters

SOFIA, (Reuters) - Tsetska Tsacheva, the presidential election candidate of Bulgaria’s governing centre-right GERB party, leads her main rival, a voter survey before the Nov. 6 poll showed - but a runoff between the pair looks all but certain.

Neither parliament speaker Tsacheva nor Socialist candidate Rumen Radev would get the overall majority needed for a first round win, according to Monday’s poll, by Alpha Research between Oct 8-13.

That raises the strong likelihood of a runoff which a survey published on Friday by Gallup International indicated Radev might win.

Bulgaria’s presidency is a mainly ceremonial post, but next month’s election has taken on a wider significance because GERB Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has said he will resign if his candidate does not score a first-round win.

According to Monday’s poll, Tsacheva leads Radev - a former air force commander - by 29.3 percent to 21.4 percent. Some way behind in third, among 21 candidates in all, was Krasimir Karakachanov, a leader of the nationalist Patriotic Front party, on 8.7 percent

The Alpha survey did not ask voters who they would choose in a second round.

The Gallup poll did, and showed Radev three percentage points ahead of Tsacheva in a runoff, though with almost half of respondents indicating no preference for either candidate.

(Alpha Research and Gallup are independent polling agencies)

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by John Stonestreet

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