Sofia, 18 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgarians go to the polls tomorrow to elect a new parliament after the leftist-dominated legislature was dissolved following a wave of protests against the ruling Socialists this year. Our correspondent reports opinion polls suggest the opposition is poised to win an overwhelming victory.
Altogether, 38 political parties are putting up candidates for parliament, but only the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the opposition coalition United Democratic Forces (UDF), and three smaller coalitions have believed to have any chance of passing the four-percent threshhold needed to win seats.
Our correspondent also notes the unusually calm election campaign seems to have failed to inspire voters. Most voters admitted they had not even bothered to read the election programs of the competing political parties.
Our Washington correspondent reports that a private American organization -- The International Republican Institute -- is sending a nine-member delegation to observe the parliamentary elections.
The institute says the delegates will be deployed in four regions to evaluate the overall electoral process, including the pre-electoral environment and election administration.
The organization says that prior to the elections, the delegates will consult with Bulgarian election officials, party leaders, media representatives, political analysts and U.S. embassy staff to receive background information on the elections and the latest polling information.
The institute, established in 1984, receives funds from the U.S. government and from donations. It is not formally affiliated with the U.S. Republican Party.
It says it has conducted more than 50 election observations in dozens of countries, including in several past elections in Bulgaria.
The Institute says it conducts a wide range of programs outside the U.S. that are designed to promote and strengthen democratic ideals and institutions.