July 25, 2021

Bulgarians at the polls to break the deadlock

Legislative news amid anger against corruption: Bulgarians vote on Sunday July 11 for the second time in three months, with the hope that these elections will finally lead to the formation of a stable coalition after a decade of power of the conservative Boyko Borissov.

The former prime minister, who came first in the previous election with 26% of the vote but weakened by the massive protests of last year, could not find a partner to govern.

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Since then, the 62-year-old leader has lost ground, faced with the flood of almost daily revelations from the interim government on the corruption that plagues this poorest country in the European Union. He was also shaken by the announcement of US sanctions against oligarchs, which his detractors accuse him of having protected.

Cornered, Mr. Borissov, a former bodyguard who marked with his longevity the Bulgarian post-communist history, again denounced Friday evening, during an electoral meeting, “Terror and repression” exercised according to him by the new administration.

According to the latest polls, his GERB party is neck and neck or even overtaken by the anti-system training of TV host and singer Slavi Trifonov, 54, who surprised by coming in second in April (17 , 6%). Both are now credited with 20% to 21% of the vote.

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“Caught by the throat”

Mr. Trifonov’s party, called “There is such a people” (ITN), refuses any cooperation with traditional parties with a tainted reputation, including the Socialists and the Turkish Minority Party (MDL). On the other hand, she said she was ready to negotiate with the representatives of those who took to the streets in the summer of 2020 and are galvanized by the wind of change: democratic Bulgaria (right), which could gather 12% of the vote, and Stand up! Mafia out (left, around 5%).

However, the three combined forces would only obtain 100 to 110 seats out of the 240 in Parliament, according to the counting of the analytical institutes which suggests a fragmented landscape. “To achieve a stable government (…), we cannot rule out the possibility of third or even fourth elections ”ITN vice-president Tochko Yordanov warned, saying he wanted to avoid “A cabinet taken by the throat which would risk being overthrown by Parliament at any time”. “The state would not collapse, it is the democratic process”, he relativized at the end of a very discreet campaign of his leader, who a priori will not seek the post of Prime Minister.

The danger of a “Spiral of elections” was also mentioned by the founder of democratic Bulgaria, Hristo Ivanov, the third man in the elections.

For this new ballot, voting machines have been installed in most offices in order to limit fraud.

The interim cabinet also attacked an old practice, that of vote buying by political parties, which concerns between 5% and 19% of the vote, according to the NGO Anticorruption Fund. More than 900 people have been arrested in recent weeks for allegedly trying to bribe voters, especially in disadvantaged areas, Interior Minister Boïko Rachkov announced on Friday. It was offered to them, in exchange for their voice, “Firewood, packets of flour and lentils, or even sums of money between 20 and 50 leva [10 à 25 euros] ».

Offices open at 7 a.m. local (6 a.m. in Paris) and close at 8 p.m. (7 p.m.), with the first estimates expected shortly thereafter.

The World with AFP