No majority for either of Bulgaria’s main parties, exit polls indicate

No clear winner could lead to more political and economic instability in the financially strapped Balkan nation

The leader of the centre-right Gerb party Boiko Borisov, left, and the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party Sergei Stanishev casting their votes in Sofia yesterday. Photographs: Stoyan Nenov, Pierre Marsaut/Reuters

The leader of the centre-right Gerb party Boiko Borisov, left, and the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party Sergei Stanishev casting their votes in Sofia yesterday. Photographs: Stoyan Nenov, Pierre Marsaut/Reuters

Sun, May 12, 2013, 22:38

Bulgaria’s centre-right party and its main challenger, the Socialists, finished first and second in yesterday’s parliamentary election, with neither winning a majority needed to form a government, two exit polls indicated.

If that outcome is confirmed, it could lead to more political and economic instability in this financially strapped Balkan nation. That was clear late yesterday when dozens of angry people clashed with police in front of the election press centre where party leaders arrived for news conferences.

Disappointed with the election results and accusing the politicians of vote-rigging, the protesters shouted “Mafia” and tried to storm the building but were stopped by police in riot gear who cordoned off the area.

Some 6.9 million eligible voters chose among candidates from 36 parties. But voter apathy was widespread, and allegations of vote fraud and an illegal wiretapping scandal marred the campaign.

The Alpha Research exit poll said former prime minister Boiko Borisov’s Gerb party won 31.1 per cent of the votes, with the Socialists second on 27.1 per cent. A separate exit poll by Sova Harris had Mr Borisov’s party on 31 per cent of the vote, with the Socialists on 25.3 per cent.

Recent opinion polls had predicted that outcome. Official results are expected today. Parties have to win at least 4 per cent of the votes to get seats in 240-seat Parliament, and three parties in addition to Gerb and the Socialists are expected to do so. That could make forming a coalition difficult.

“I expect the country will soon head to another election,” said Anton Todorov, a political analyst. His colleague Ognyan Minchev agreed, saying he sees “a risk of a hung parliament.” – (PA)