SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 3 August 2021, Tuesday |

Bulgaria’s center-right GERB just ahead in election, unlikely to form government

Partially official results showed that the center-right GERB party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has a narrow lead in Bulgaria’s parliamentary election, although it is unlikely to form a government coalition.

With 95 percent of the votes counted, GERB received 23.9 percent of the vote, narrowly ahead of Slavi Trifonov’s upstart anti-establishment party There Is Such a People (ITN), which received 23.7 percent.

Bulgaria’s second election since April was decided by a razor-thin margin, revealing significant differences in the European Union’s poorest member state over Borissov’s decade-long tenure.

Many have turned to ITN and two smaller anti-graft parties in hope of more resolute action against widespread corruption, blaming Borissov, 62, a former bodyguard and fireman, for turning a blind eye or even supporting powerful oligarchs.

But GERB continues to benefit from Borissov’s efforts to build much needed new highways and bolster incomes while maintaining fiscal stability.

With such tight margins, the winner of the vote could still change. But even if the final official results confirm GERB as the largest party, its chances of forging a ruling coalition are close to non-existent, political observers say.

‘SYMBOLIC MEANING’

GERB won 26.2 percent of the vote in April’s inconclusive election, but was ostracized by other parties.

“If GERB wins, it will be a purely symbolic victory. Borissov will attempt to create a government, but he will undoubtedly fail “According to Parvan Simeonov, a Gallup International analyst.

With the assistance of two tiny anti-graft groups, Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up!, the ITN party is better positioned to form a government. Out with the Mafia!

But the three protest parties are not seen securing a parliamentary majority, meaning ITN would need the backing of traditional parties such as the Socialists or the ethnic Turkish MRF party, to replace the current interim Cabinet.

“I believe there will be a government, but I believe it will be short-lived. These findings do not imply that there is a broad mandate for stability “Rumiana Dimitrova, a pollster with Alpha Research, agreed.

Trifonov, 54, said he would unveil ITN’s plans later on Monday in a post on his Facebook page late Sunday.

There will be weeks of difficult negotiations ahead of us. A third election is unlikely, which means Bulgaria could have trouble accessing the European Union’s multibillion-euro coronavirus recovery fund or approving its budget plans for 2022.

On Thursday, the official results will be released.