Sofia (Bulgaria): The candidate of the ruling right-wing GERB party Rosen Plevneliev was elected Bulgaria's next President in a run-off on Monday, early exit poll results showed.

The popular former Construction Minister won the second-round vote with between 54.8 and 57 percent, ahead of Socialist candidate and European deputy Ivaylo Kalfin who took between 43 and 45.2 percent, according to exit polls by the MBMD, Sova Harris, Gallup and Alpha Research institutes.

"Bulgaria has elected its next President. His name is Rosen Plevneliev," Alpha Research analyst Boryana Dimitrova said.

Though pollsters were yet to conduct their re-counts and official results were not expected until later Sunday, Dimitrova was categorical that "the distance between the two cannot be bridged."

GERB had also won a convincing victory in the parallel run-offs for local mayors in all the main cities, tightening their grip on all major powers in the 6.9 million country, Dimitrova added.

The party was also quick to claim its election win, with Interior Minister and election staff Chief Tsvetan Tsvetanov saying: "Of course we won and very convincingly indeed."

Plevneliev, 47, who entered politics from the construction business just two years ago, quickly became GERB's most popular minister.

He won praise for his efforts to renovate the country's ageing infrastructure and kickstart key highway construction projects with funds secured through European Union development grants.

Analysts have however voiced concern that the inexperienced politician may simply rubber stamp proposals backed by Bulgaria's powerful Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who pushed Plevneliev to run for the presidency and campaigned on his behalf.

The Bulgarian presidency, which carries a five-year term, is largely a ceremonial post with limited powers.

Once he takes office in late January, Plevneliev, will become the country's commander-in-chief and will also have the ability to veto legislation.

(Agencies)