Bulgarian Center-Right GERB Wins Most Votes in Election

by Abel Hampton April 5, 2017, 0:44
Bulgarian Center-Right GERB Wins Most Votes in Election

The leader of Bulgaria's center-right GERB party says the party is prepared to form a government after exit polls showed it placing first in a parliamentary election.

Exit polls conducted by Alpha Research and Gallup International Balkan (GIB) showed GERB had won between 32.2 percent and 32.8 percent of the vote, with the Socialist Party BSP trailing on 28.0 percent to 28.4 percent.

Borisov said the election result "confirmed categorically that GERB should be the leading ruling party", adding that he would make "utmost efforts" with potential coalition partners to form a government quickly.

The Socialist Party was in second place, polling 27.1 percent.

The former mayor of Sofia previously ruled out an alliance with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, which represents Bulgaria's Turkish population and won nearly 8 percent of the vote.

Neither party, however, is likely to win enough votes to govern alone and will struggle to form what analysts expect to be a fragile and diverse coalition.

Sunday's early general election was held four months after the resignation of the minority coalition cabinet led by GERB. European Union leaders probably felt relieved over BSP's loss since the party had pledged to block sanctions on Russian Federation and to restart old plans to work with Moscow to construct the Belene nuclear plant (Bulgaria pulled out of the project in 2012 because of its costs and concerns over increased energy dependence on Russia). Another two parties look set to enter the parliament - the newcomer "Volia" founded by the businessman Vesselin Mareshki - and the right-wing Reformist bloc, which is now teetering on the edge of the 4-percent barrier. Parliament was dissolved in January, and the president appointed a caretaker government that will stay until a new government is formed. The election in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member of 7.2 million people was triggered when Borissov resigned after his candidate lost November's presidential ballot to a Russia-friendly Socialist.

Borisov said GERB had a "duty to form a government because this is the will of the people and because we triggered these early elections". But Borisov also said during the campaign that he wanted more "pragmatic" ties with Russian Federation and to revive contentious joint projects.

The Central Election Commission said voter turnout for the election stood at almost 43 percent at 5 p.m., a larger showing than in previous elections. The elections are also surrounded by the Bulgarian-Turkish border blockade as the Bulgarian nationalists attempt to prevent the Bulgarian citizens, who are permanently living in Turkey, from casting their votes.

CEZ acquired 67 percent stake in the power distributor in western Bulgaria in 2004 after placing the highest bid of 281.5 million euros ($303.65 million) in a privatisation tender.

The campaign also saw a spat erupt between Bulgaria and its neighbour Turkey.

Borisov said he wanted a third mandate "to guarantee stability". Accusations were made about Turkish officials allegedly helping DOST, a newly established political party led by Lyutvi Ahmet Mestan, a Bulgarian politician of Turkish origin.

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