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Bulgaria's Ruling Party Projected To Win Poll, But Faces Tough Coalition Challenge

Updated

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov casts his ballot during parliamentary elections in the town of Bankya on April 4.

SOFIA -- The center-right ruling party of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is projected to win Bulgaria's parliamentary elections with about 25 percent of the vote.

The Alpha Research polling firm put the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party in second place with 17.6 percent of the vote. The protest There Is Such A People party, headed by television personality Slavi Trifonov, placed third with 15.2 percent.

Two other parties -- the mostly ethnic Turkish-backed Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and the nationalist Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO) -- were also projected to win seats in the 240-seat parliament.

With his Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party's support down from the 33.5 percent it won in elections in 2017, Borisov will now face the difficult task of forming a coalition to secure another four-year mandate.

WATCH: Special crews with ballot boxes visited the homes of quarantined voters. Polling stations in Sofia also adopted strengthened hygiene measures amid the soaring COVID-19 outbreak.

Quarantine Doesn't Stop Bulgarian Voters
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The 61-year-old Borisov has dominated Bulgarian politics since GERB won the 2009 elections.

But the party's support base has eroded in recent years amid allegations of widespread corruption within the GERB-led government and Borisov's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Emilia Zankina, a Bulgaria expert and dean of Temple University's Rome campus, told RFE/RL that Borisov would likely form a "floating majority" among an "ideologically incongruent" cast of parties, leading to constant bargaining on every issue.

"Forming a stable government will be almost possible," Zankina said. "I don't see this government lasting too long."

Bulgaria's Leaders Vote In Closely Watched Elections
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Bulgaria is ranked last among European Union countries on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, and has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the EU.

Members of GERB have been involved in a series of recent corruption scandals, sparking the country's largest anti-government demonstrations in years.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across the country last summer to protest corruption and the alleged use of the judiciary to target GERB's political rivals.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AP
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    RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service relaunched in 2019 after a 15-year absence, providing independent news and original analysis to help strengthen a media landscape weakened by the monopolization of ownership and corruption.

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