Bulgaria goes to polls for fifth time in two years

Sofia, Apr 2 (EFE).- Voting began in Bulgaria on Sunday for the country’s fifth general elections in two years, as part of a fresh attempt to overcome the deep-seated political and institutional crisis affecting the Balkan country.

Around 6.6 million registered voters will have the option to participate in the polls at more than 11,600 electoral booths, which opened at 7 am and are set to close at 8 pm.

According to pre-poll surveys, the two major alliances – both of them pro-Europe but with serious differences among themselves – enjoy about 25 percent support each, which could once again complicate the formation of a stable government.

The reformist We Continue the Change (PP) party of ex-premier Kiril Petkov is aiming to secure the highest percentage of votes along with its ally “Democratic Bulgaria,” especially thanks to its sizable support among Bulgarians living abroad.

Petkov’s rival, another ex-Pm Boiko Borisov, heads the conservative populist party GERB, and has been accused by the PP-DB alliance of having ruled Bulgaria for a decade through a regime promoting nepotism and colluding with organized crime and oligarchs.

The Ukraine war and Bulgaria’s stance towards Russia have dominated the politics of the former communist country, which has been ruled in recent months by a technocratic government installed by President Rumen Radev, a pro-Russia former military general.

Apart from the two major alliances, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) – a populist party close to GERB and backed by the Turkish minority – and ultra-nationalist and Pro-Russia party “Vazrazhdane” (Renaissance) are also in the fray, with polls showing around 14 percent support for both.

Smaller parties such as the socialist BSP – the successor of the former communist party with less than 8 percent support in the surveys – could also make an impact

Mathematically, the easiest formula for forming a government after the elections would be for the two most powerful coalitions to come together and achieve a stable majority.

However, this appears to be politically impossible due to the deep divisions between the two blocs, especially over the issues of the fight against corruption and judicial reforms.

Local analysts have predicted that a large number of population – even up to 60 percent – may abstain from voting, reflecting the high level of disillusionment with the current political scenario. EFE


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