Bulgaria heads to the polls on Sunday in the country’s third parliamentary election this year after the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) failed to form a government following July 11’s inconclusive parliamentary polls.
The centre-right GERB party led by former Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov- which had been in power for most of the previous decade- leads opinion polls on around 24% support. We Continue the Change, a new centrist party set up in September by two Harvard-educated former interim ministers, lie next on 15-16%.
Twenty parties and seven coalitions have registered to run in the parliamentary elections. It is expected that the 47th National Assembly will include six parties and coalitions according to the data of the sociological agencies – these are GERB-SDS, “BSP for Bulgaria”, “We Continue the Change”, TISP, DPS and “Democratic Bulgaria”, Novinite News Agency reported.
But neither GERB nor any of the other five parties expected to win seats in the new parliament is expected to win an outright majority.
The snap election held in July-when turnout was 41% according to the Central Election Commission- did not bring about any dramatic changes in the seating of the newly elected parliament. The main difference from the regular election held in April-when turnout was 49.10%-was that one of the new political formations, called There Are Such People (ITN) and led by singer-turned-politician Slavi Trifonov, came first in the polls with 24.08% of the vote and won 65 of the 240 seats in the legislature.
The GERB party came second with 23.51% winning 63 seats, followed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) with a lower share (13.4%). In addition, three other parties, including the Turkish minority party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), passed the 4% threshold for entering parliament.
Still these results did not change the main outcome of the election: the three self-declared ‘protest parties’ (those that led the 2020 protests against the GERB government) failed to gain a parliamentary majority.
A presidential election also being held on Sunday is likely to be more straightforward. A total of 24 parties, coalitions and initiative committees are registered in the public register for the presidential and vice presidential elections.
Incumbent Rumen Radev is widely expected to win with some 51.2% of vote, far ahead of Sofia University rector Anastas Gerdijkov on 22.5%, according to the latest Gallup International research.
It is not certain whether the new snap elections will resolve the political stalemate by producing a regular government in the Balkan country of 7 million where the gross domestic product per capita is only 55% of the average in the EU.
The 240 members of the National Assembly are elected by open list proportional representation from 31 multi-member constituencies ranging in size from 4 to 16 seats. The electoral threshold is 4% for parties, with seats allocated according to the largest remainder method.
The President of Bulgaria is elected using the two-round system, with voters also given a none of the above option. A second round of the presidential elections will be held on 21 November if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the first round.
Bulgaria to hold runoff for presidential elections
According to Central Election Commission data late on Sunday night, “We Continuing the Change” received 25.97% of the votes, GERB-SDS 21.42%, DPS 13, 79%, “There is Such a People” has a result of 10.08%, “BSP for Bulgaria” 9.99%, “Democratic Bulgaria – Unification” 6.11%, and “Vazrazhdane” 5.19%, “Stand up BG! We are coming!” receives 2.34%.
It could be days before the final official results are announced and it’s also likely that the election will result in weeks of negotiations in trying to form a coalition.
Incumbent president Radev backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), won 49.1% of the vote and advanced to the second round, which will be held on Nov. 21, according to preliminary results.
Incumbent President Radev wins second term
Radev won his second term in office. According to official figures with 99.8% of ballots counted, Radev won about 66.7% support, while Anastas Gerdzhikov won 31.9%.
“An unprecedented political month with two types of elections ended that clearly highlighted the desire of the people for change, to break with corruption, robbery and unlawfulness and remove the mafia from power” Radev told reporters after the vote.
Radev’s second five-year term will start on Jan. 22.
With reporting by Reuters, Euronews, Novinite, AFP