May 23, 2024

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Exhausted Bulgarians are going to the polls for the fifth time in two years

Exhausted Bulgarians are going to the polls for the fifth time in two years

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgarians will vote on Sunday in their fifth parliamentary election in two years amid growing discontent with political elites that many see as unwilling to tackle illicit corruption and economic reforms.

Polls show that the vote is likely to leave Bulgaria without a functioning parliamentary majority again, raising questions about its ambitions to join the eurozone in the near term and use EU aid to recover from the novel coronavirus.

Riding the competition is a coalition of the centre-right GERB party of former prime minister Boyko Borissov, 63, and his junior partner in the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), as well as the newly created pro-Western coalition. The Party of Change (PP) and the Reformist Democratic Party of Bulgaria (DB).

“Regardless of which comes first, it doesn’t solve the big question – what are the prospects for forming a government,” said Genoveva Petrova of Alpha Research.

Petrova added that “the parties in Bulgaria have four provisional parliaments to realize that there is no political force at the moment that not only has an absolute majority, but also has a large enough advantage to set the agenda.”

Voting ends at 8 pm (1700 GMT).

The two coalitions are choppy in the polls, with the latest by Exacta Research Group showing them at 26.2% and 25.6% respectively, and the National Ennahda Party at 12.8%.

Complicating the coalition building are accusations by many of his political opponents that Borisov did not do enough to stop corruption in the country during his decade-long rule that ended in 2021, which Borisov denies.

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“It is not normal that there is no political dialogue, there is no will … to consolidate until things get better,” said Ivelo Atanasov, 47, in Sofia.

Bulgaria’s position on Russia’s war in Ukraine may also be at stake. Once an ally of President Vladimir Putin, Sofia has backed Kiev ever since Moscow launched what it called its own military operation in Ukraine.

The two rival coalitions on Sunday want Bulgaria to maintain its pro-Ukraine stance, but President Rumen Radev, who wields significant power throughout a period of political instability, has pushed for a more nuanced approach.

Written by Justina Pawlak. Editing by Alexander Smith and Hugh Lawson

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