Bulgarians will vote for the second time in three months after the ruling GERB party has not found coalition partners.
Bulgarians have gone to the polls for the second time in three months, hoping that political parties can agree this time on a stable governing coalition.
Voting began Sunday at 7 a.m. (4:00 GMT) and closes at 8:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. GMT) and results of exit polls are expected shortly thereafter.
After almost ten years in power, the conservative GERB party of the triple prime minister Boyko Borisov came out first in the last election in April with 26 percent of ballots.
However, badly damaged after widespread protests against corruption in the summer of 2020, GERB was left isolated in a fragmented legislature and found no partners to govern.
Since then, Borisov, 62, a former bodyguard with a black karate belt, has suffered a series of new blows from revelations in the interim cabinet about bad governance and allegations of corruption under his surveillance.
In addition, unprecedented U.S. sanctions emerged against Bulgarian oligarchs who, according to Borisov’s critics, were favored during his time in government of the poorest and most corrupt member state of the European Union.
Veteran Borisov, whose political longevity has marked Bulgaria’s post-communist history, has denied any wrongdoing.
At a closing rally in Sofia on Friday evening, he criticized the interim administration for allegedly using “terror and repression” against him.
Polls on the eve of the polls put GERB and even the second behind the new anti-establishment party There is such a people (ITN) by singer and TV presenter Slavi Trifonov, which caused public discontent to arrive. in second place surprise in April with 17.6 percent.
Surveys now accredit both rival parties with 20-21 percent.
Trifonov’s ITN has already refused to work with GERB, the opposition Socialists or the Turkish minority MRF, the traditional government parties.
Instead, he hopes to unite a coalition with the parties that emerged from last summer’s protests: right-wing Democratic Bulgaria, which voted 12%, and the Left Stand Up! Mafia Out, with 5-6 percent.
The three are unlikely to reach a majority with about 100-110 seats in the 240-seat parliament, according to pollsters, which predict another highly fragmented legislature with six or even seven parties exceeding the 4 percent threshold. ‘entrance.
“To achieve a stable government … we cannot rule out a third or fourth election,” ITN Vice President Toshko Yordanov told TV Nova on Wednesday.
He said this would be done to avoid “a cabinet … which runs the risk of being ousted by parliament at any time”.
“The country will not collapse, this is the democratic process,” Yordanov added in a rare public appearance at the end of an unconventional campaign that has seen most parties shy away from media interviews.
Trifonov himself is not running and has announced that he will not run for prime minister.
For the first time, voting will be conducted primarily by machine in order to limit voter fraud.
The interim cabinet has tried to limit the widespread buying of votes and intimidation of voters, practices of long-standing political parties that account for between 5 and 19 percent of the vote, according to the Sofia-based Anti-Corruption Foundation.
More than 900 people have been arrested recently for allegedly trying to bribe poverty-stricken voters with 20-50 levs ($ 12-30), firewood and even staple foods like flour, bread or lentils, the minister said on Friday. the Interior, Boyko Rashkov.