Exit polls in Bulgaria showed that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party won Sunday’s (4 April) general elections, writes Ihvan Radoykov.
According to the Alpha Research exit poll broadcast by the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), seven political parties and coalitions passed the 4% election threshold.
The poll results showed that Borisov’s GERB party received 25.7 % of the votes, while the main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) became the second party with 17.6% votes.
Led by showman Slavi Trifonov, There Is Such A People (ITN) received 15.5% of the votes, while the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, majority of which are Turks, received 11% votes.
The right-wing Democratic Bulgaria, left-wing coalition of Stand up! Mafia out!, and far-right Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO) led by Krasimir Karakachanov, defense minister of the Borisov government, entered the parliament.
Voters in Bulgaria went to the polls on Sunday for the country’s 11th parliamentary elections since the overthrow of communist dictator Todor Zhivkov in 1989.
Some 6.3 million eligible voters, including around 850,000 Turks and Muslims, voted to elect members of the 240-seat National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, from 22 political parties and eight coalitions.
Sunday’s vote was the first regular parliamentary election since 2009, following repeated snap polls.
The elections hold special significance for Bulgaria’s Muslim and Turkish population, as they served as a chance for the centrist Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) party to regain power.
The party, formed at the start of Bulgaria’s journey toward democracy, has a majority of Turks among its members and has played a key role in the country’s politics for over three decades.
The MRF has been in opposition since the GERB formed a coalition government with the ultra-nationalist United Patriots (OP) alliance in 2017.
Bulgaria’s Turkish and Muslim population has traditionally voted for the MRF.
Borisov’s GERB party also wooed Turks and Muslims in the country, but the OP alliance based its electoral campaign to a great extent on hostility against the minority communities.
EU Cohesion policy: €133.4 million for Bulgaria and Sweden to tackle the social and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis
The Commission has approved the modification of three operational programmes (OPs) under REACT-EU to provide €75.9 million to Bulgaria and €57.5m to Sweden to help tackle the effects of the pandemic. Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said: “The coronavirus has put our social fabric to the test and has hit the most vulnerable people the hardest. The EU is showing solidarity by supporting the provision of aid in these difficult times and promoting social inclusion.” Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira (pictured) said: “The decisions approved today are the result of good policy measures. They will provide much needed investment resources for the post-coronavirus crisis move to a green and digital recovery.” The Bulgarian programme for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) will receive an extra €19.9m in 2021 to provide daily warm meals to 50,000 people from vulnerable groups living in poverty. This is the first amendment of a FEAD OP under REACT-EU. In addition, the Bulgarian programme ‘Science and Education for Smart Growth', co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will be topped up with €56m to support distance learning. At least 10% of students and teachers will receive laptops or tablets and 30% of teachers will receive training in online teaching. In Sweden, the Commission has approved the modification of an OP that will increase the funding available for investments by nearly €57.5m. The amendment of the national OP co-financed by the ERDF will support the sustainable green and digital transition of the Swedish SMEs that were most negatively impacted by the crisis, such as from the tourism and hospitality sectors. REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.5 billion additional funding over the course of 2021 and 2022 to programmes under the ERDF, the ESF and the FEAD.
Bulgaria to hold fresh general election on 11 July - president
Bulgaria will hold a snap parliamentary election on 11 July, after a third and final attempt to form a government following 4 April polls that led to a fragmented parliament failed, President Rumen Radev (pictured) said today (5 May), writes Tsvetelia Tsolova.
Outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's centre-right GERB, which has dominated Bulgarian politics over the last decade, again emerged as the largest party after last month's election but it lost seats amid widespread public anger over corruption in the European Union's poorest member state.
With Borissov short of a majority and unable to forge a new coalition, the president had asked a new anti-elite party led by TV host Slavi Trifonov to do so but it also failed, as did the third largest party in the new parliament, the Socialists.
"Bulgaria needs a strong-willed political alternative, which the current parliament failed to produce," Radev said after the Socialist Party returned the mandate to form a government.
The stalemate left Radev, a harsh critic of Borissov's failure to crack down on graft, with no alternative but to appoint an interim technocrat administration and call another snap election within two months.
The prolonged political uncertainty is unlikely to undermine Bulgaria's prudent fiscal policies and its commitment to adopting the euro currency due to a broad political consensus in Sofia on these issues, ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday.
Fitch, which rates Bulgaria at investment BBB grade with a positive outlook, said that a protracted political deadlock could delay reforms, needed for the efficient tapping of the EU's €750 billion coronavirus Recovery Fund
Radev linked the setting of the date for the new election with the appointment of a new central electoral commission that is expected to be finalised on 11 May.
"Next week I will dissolve the parliament and appoint an interim government. In this situation, the election is expected to be held on 11 July," Radev said in a live broadcast.
Radev said he plans to appoint experts as interim ministers, including members of the Socialist Party, which has already said it would back him in his own re-election bid in a presidential vote due in the autumn.
The caretaker government will face a challenging agenda of managing a health and economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic within a tight budget it cannot amend and of ensuring a fair election.
A recent opinion poll showed GERB remains the most popular party, but its key rival, Trifonov's There Is Such a People, is a close second, raising the prospect of continued fragmentation in which the politicians will struggle to form a stable coalition government.
Bulgaria faces fresh elections as Socialists refuse to form a government
Bulgaria will head to the polls in July after the Socialists on Saturday (1 May) became the third political party to refuse to lead a government following last month's parliamentary election.
The Socialists, who lost almost half of their seats in the April 4 election, said it would be impossible to build a working majority in a fragmented parliament and would return the mandate immediately after the president hands it to them on May 5.
President Rumen Radev faces having to dissolve parliament, appoint an interim administration and call snap polls within two months - most likely on July 11.
Prolonged political uncertainty could hamper the European Union's poorest member state's ability to restart its pandemic battered economy and effectively tap the EU's 750 billion euro ($896 billion) coronavirus Recovery Fund.
The Socialists' decision comes after both the centre-right GERB party of outgoing, three-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the new anti-establishment ITN party, led by TV host and singer Slavi Trifonov, both gave up on attempts to form a government.
Popular anger against widespread corruption after almost a decade of Borissov's governance has boosted support for the anti-elite ITN party and two smaller anti-graft groupings, though the three together lack a majority in the chamber.
The Socialists, who have campaigned to unseat Borissov's GERB, said the three new parties have refused to enter into alliance with them.
"The three new parties in the parliament showed political immaturity, they could not overcome their ego," Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova told reporters after a party meeting.
"In this situation, despite our will for a change a government led by us, even a temporary one, is impossible."
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