Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov’s party won Sunday’s national elections, giving him an advantage in forming a government for a fourth term as prime minister, polls show.
However, Borisov, who heads the poorest and most corrupt state in the EU, according to Transparency International, may find it difficult to form a coalition because rival parties have pledged not to join a government led by him. .
Borisov’s Citizens’ Party for European Development of Bulgaria (Gerb) won 25.7% in Sunday’s vote, according to an exit poll conducted by pollster Alpha Research for public television BNT.
However, this result is significantly lower than the 33.5% achieved four years ago, and the party looks set to lose the capital Sofia for the first time in 15 years.
Opposition Socialists won 17.6%, less than expected. A new party called There Is a Such a People, led by Stanislav Trifonov, a populist talk show host who campaigned on rule of law issues, came in third, with 15%.
Another survey, carried out by Sofia-based Gallup International, placed Trifunov, who had previously ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition with Gerb or the Socialists, in second place.
Borisov may find it difficult to form a government because, of the seven parties that appear ready to enter parliament, three are openly anti-Gerb. They were born from a demonstration movement this summer against Borisov, Attorney General Ivan Geshev, and ties to businessmen like politician Delyan Peevski.
“The current status quo is no longer possible, which is a partial victory for last summer’s protest,” said Vessela Tcherneva, from the Sofia office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, of the results.
The protests, which lasted more than 100 days, were sparked by a July raid by the Interior Ministry on President Rumen Radev’s desk.
But they were fueled by anger Corruption and what Borisov’s critics said was a legal system that protects government allies while selectively pursuing enemies. Borisov, who has been in power with two short interruptions since 2009, refused to step down as he had done twice before amid widespread discontent.
Trifunov was a first-time candidate whose anti-corruption platform included calls for direct elections for the attorney general, the national ombudsperson, directors of regional directorates and heads of regional departments of the Interior Ministry.
His party seems likely to overthrow the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which traditionally represents ethnic Turks and acts as a kingmaker after the elections, from third place. An Alpha poll gave the party 11 percent.
Democratic Bulgaria, a great sponsor of protests last year, won about 10 percent, according to polls. The “Get Up!” Protest party Mafia Out! »Also crossed the threshold to enter parliament.
Borisov, posing as an effective manager who has built infrastructure across the country, has also faced personal allegations of corruption. Over the summer, a photograph emerged of what is believed to be his bedside table, with a pistol on top and wads of cash of unknown origin totaling around $ 1 million. Borisov, a former bodyguard of Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov, admitted to owning a gun but said the photos had been tampered with.
Observers say the process of forming a government will take time and a new election is possible.
Delays could hamper Bulgaria’s ability to tap into a new tranche of EU recovery funds and derail its plan to join the eurozone in 2024 and apply to be included in the Schengen-free travel zone .