Bulgaria profile

President: Rosen Plevneliev

Bulgarian President Plevneliev President Plevneliev has overseen several changes of government

Rosen Plevneliev won the presidential elections in a run-off in October 2011, beating Socialist candidate Ivaylo Kalfin.

He took office in January 2012 for a five-year term in a post that carries few real powers.

As the candidate of the then-ruling centre-right GERB party, Mr Plevneliev's victory was expected to bolster the government's push for painful economic reforms.

When the government of Boyko Borisov collapsed in February 2013 following mass protests over high electricity prices, Mr Plevneliev appointed a caretaker government before fresh elections in May resulted in the formation of a technocratic government headed by Plamen Oresharski.

Before becoming president, Mr Plevneliev was construction minister in the GERB-dominated government of Boyko Borisov. Prior to that, he ran his own building and development company.

Prime minister (resigned): Plamen Oresharski

Bulgarian premier Plamen Oresharski Plamen Oresharski became prime minister in the midst of a severe crisis

Plamen Oresharski was confirmed new prime minister at the head of a Socialist-backed technocrat government in May 2013, ending months of political impasse.

After little more than a year in office he resigned to allow for an early election, due in early October 2014.

Mr Oresharski stepped down after the Socialists did badly in European elections and lost a key ally in parliament. The country has also been hit by a banking crisis.

When he took office in 2013, Bulgaria had been without a permanent administration for months, after street protests against low living standards toppled a government led by the centre-right GERB party.

Mr Oresharski, a professor of finance at Sofia's University for National and World Economy, was put forward by the Socialists as a Bulgarian version of Italy's respected former technocrat prime minister Mario Monti, after snap elections.

Former premier Boyko Borisov's GERB party, which won the vote, had failed to find partners to govern, leaving the second-placed Socialists to name a new prime minister.

Assuming office, Mr Oresharski warned that Bulgaria is "in a deep institutional crisis, continuing economic depression and worsening disintegration of society".

But as Oresharski's government quickly lost support amid allegations of corrupt ties with business groups, anti-government protests continued.

Protesters' anger against Mr Oresharski's government were inflamed by the appointment - later reversed by parliament - of controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski as head the national security agency. Some accuse the cabinet of being backed by a "Red Mafia".

A finance minister in a Socialist-led coalition between 2005 and 2009, Mr Oresharski won praise for implementing a key reform in Bulgaria's taxation system.

He was also part of the team that oversaw the introduction of an IMF-led currency board regime in 1997 - pegging the national currency, the lev, to the euro at a fixed rate - that stabilised the economy and is still in place.

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