Bulgaria votes to end political deadlock

Balkan country has had a caretaker administration since a Socialist-led government resigned in February 2013.

    Bulgaria votes to end political deadlock
    Bulgaria has been in the hands of a caretaker government since August [Reuters]

    Bulgarians have started voting in a parliamentary election, hoping a new government will end a political stalemate, revive the economy, and find ways to ease Moscow's grip on the country's energy supplies.

    Opinion polls predict the biggest vote winner in Sunday's election will be the centre-right GERB party led by a former prime minister, Boyko Borisov - who resigned after mass anti-corruption protests in February 2013. 

    The rival Socialists and the Turkish minority party MRF both backed the previous technocrat government.

    The survey also predicted that GERB may fall short of a majority in the 240-seat parliament.

    Polling stations in the Balkan country with a population 7.4 million were due to close at 7pm local time (16:00 GMT), with exit polls due shortly afterwards, AFP news agency reported.

    Bulgaria has been in the hands of a caretaker government since August, following the collapse of the Socialist-led administration.

    Over the last two years, the country has seen large-scale protests topple a previous GERB administration and nearly fell its successor.

    Top of the list of the new government's priorities is what to do with Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank), Bulgaria's fourth-biggest lender, which was closed after a run on deposits in June and whose fate has been in limbo since then. 

    Furious customers at the bank have been unable to access their money for more than three months, and the bank's main shareholder is charged with embezzlement.

    Foreign direct investment has fallen by more than a fifth this year.

    Seven years after the nation joined the EU with high hopes of prosperity, corruption remains endemic while one in five Bulgarians lives below the poverty line.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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