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Bulgaria: Former King's Party Wins Big In Election

Sofia, 18 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Preliminary results from Bulgaria's general election show the political movement of former King Simeon II could be headed toward an absolute majority in parliament. Central Electoral Commission spokeswoman Iliana Rizova told Reuters news agency that with nearly all ballots counted, Simeon's movement has won 43 percent of yesterday's vote, enough for 121 seats in the 240-seat parliament.

Other electoral commission officials cautioned that the parliament composition would not be known until all ballots have been counted. Final results are expected on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said his ruling center-right coalition had suffered what he called "a heavy election defeat." Figures showed Kostov's Union of Democratic Forces receiving about 18 percent of the vote. The opposition Socialist Party had received some 17 percent.

Simeon II said he is ready to form a coalition with "all parties who share our program." He made the remark late last night after exit polls and preliminary results showed his National Movement Simeon II with a wide lead in yesterday's parliamentary elections.

Simeon, who did not run himself for a parliamentary seat, refused to specify what his exact role will be if his movement is elected. Premier Kostov said his government had made "mistakes" in carrying out reforms. He said the government wanted "the voter to pay a higher price than he was prepared to pay."