No clear winner emerged from Bulgaria’s parliamentary election on Sunday, exit polls showed, with the centre-right GERB party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov narrowly ahead of the new anti-elite party There Is Such a People (ITN).
Surveys by Gallup International and Alpha Research showed GERB at 22.1 percent to 23.5 percent, and ITN, led by popular TV host and singer Slavi Trifonov, on 21.5 percent to 22.3 percent in the election, Bulgaria’s second in three months.
The close exit poll results underscore deep divisions over the legacy of Borissov’s decade-long rule, amid growing anger at widespread corruption in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member.
Even if official results confirm GERB as the largest party its chances of forging a ruling coalition are slim, political observers say.
GERB came in first in the election in April, but was shunned by other parties.
ITN is better positioned, with the support of its likely partners, two small anti-corruption groupings.
Weeks of coalition talks, or even another election, are now possible, meaning Bulgaria may face difficulty tapping the EU’s multibillion-euro coronavirus recovery package or approving its 2022 budget plans.
If deadlock leads to yet another election, “voters will tire out, their support for democracy will erode,” with extremists standing to benefit, Antony Todorov, New Bulgarian University professor told the AFP news agency.
But Boriana Dimitrova of the Alpha Research Institute told the bTV station that “the parties realise” that voters are weary “and they will make an effort to form a government”.