Tired of gridlock, Bulgarians vote in fourth election in less than 2 years

2 months ago 39

SOFIA - Bulgarians vote in their fourth national election in less than two years on Sunday, with little hope for a stable government emerging because of deep division within the political elite over how to tackle entrenched corruption.

Prolonged political turmoil threatens to undermine the country's ambitions to join the euro zone in 2024 amid double-digit inflation and steep energy prices, and could lead to a softening of Sofia's stance on the Russian war in Ukraine.

Voting starts at 7am (0400 GMT) and ends at 8pm (1700 GMT).

Exit polls will be released after the ballots close, with first partial official results expected in the early hours of Monday.

Opinion polls suggest that up to eight political parties may enter the next Parliament, with the centre-right GERB party of former long-serving premier Boyko Borissov, 63, leading with about 25-26 per cent of the vote.

Just as last year, Mr Borissov, who has pledged to bring stability and be "stronger than the chaos", is widely expected to struggle to find coalition partners among his major rivals who accuse him of allowing graft to fester during his decade-long rule that ended in 2021.

The We Continue the Change (PP) party of reformist Premier Kiril Petkov, whose coalition Cabinet collapsed in June, is running second on 16-17 per cent in opinion polls.

Failure to forge a functioning Cabinet would leave the rule of the European Union and Nato member state to a caretaker administration appointed by Russia-friendly President Rumen Radev.

New snap polls or technocrat Cabinet

However, analysts say political parties, aware of economic risks from the war in Ukraine, a difficult winter ahead and voters' frustration of political instability, might put their differences behind them and opt for a technocrat government.

"Producing a government will be difficult and will require serious compromises," said Dr Daniel Smilov, political analyst with the Centre for Liberal Strategies.

Support for traditional parties like the ethnic Turkish MRF party, and Mr Petkov's allies - the Socialists and the anti-graft Democratic Bulgaria - remains relatively unchanged since the last election in November.

Mr Pet...

Read Entire Article