Exit polls point to first place for Bulgarian leader's party

James Marshall
April 6, 2021

Still, latest opinion polls suggest that while the vote may produce a fragmented parliament that will struggle to elect a new government, Borissov´s GERB party will end up as the biggest in the chamber.

Weeks of talks, or even another election, can not be ruled out, meaning Bulgaria may have difficulty tapping the EU's 750 billion euro ($884 billion) Recovery Fund aimed at helping rebuild economies across the bloc after the coronavirus pandemic.

Borissov, 61, an ex-fireman in power nearly without a break since 2009, sought to showcase his successes in modernizing Bulgaria's creaking infrastructure in low-key campaign after massive anti-graft rallies last summer dented his popularity.

"The vast support we received from our counterparts in Europe shows the importance of a stable European government in Bulgaria", he said.

More than 6.7 million Bulgarians are eligible to vote, but pollsters expect a low turnout due to voters' fears of the coronavirus and a slow vaccine rollout.

Although hospitals are full, the government eased some lockdown restrictions before the vote, allowing restaurants to serve customers outdoors and cinemas and gyms to operate at 30% capacity.

Borissov's government has presided over a 36% increase in Bulgarians" average monthly salary to 1,468 levs ($882), has kept public debt low, and secured the country's entry to the "waiting room' for joining the euro.

Support for Mr Borrissov has eroded since thousands took to the streets and accused the government of being influenced by oligarchs, failing to eliminate corruption and poverty and failing to overhaul the judicial system.

The protesters accused Borissov of cosying up to local oligarchs and funneling European Union aid to businesses close to GERB, allegations which he denies.

"I voted against the collapse of statehood, lawlessness and corruption and for a free, just and prosperous Bulgaria", he said Sunday after voting.

President Rumen Radev, a critic of Borissov, says Bulgaria needs new faces and ideas.

The Central Election Commission said voter turnout Sunday was almost 40% by 5 p.m., a smaller showing than in previous elections.

The Socialists came in second place with 17.6 percent but were closely followed by a new party called There is Such a People, led by TV talk-show host Slavi Trifonov. Trifonov says he opposes any coalition with mainstream parties, raising the spectre of a deadlocked parliament if his party performs well.

The final results, including the number of seats won by the parties and coalitions standing in the April 2021 parliamentary elections, were expected to be announced later this week.

Hristo Ivanov's Democratic Bulgaria centre-right coalition was fourth with 10.3 per cent, ahead of the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms, with 9.1 per cent.

Polls show GERB garnering up to 29% of the vote, which could give it some 76 seats in the 240-seat legislature.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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