Former Conservative Prime Minister Boïko Borissov, in Sofia, October 2, 2022. NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP
Four parliamentary elections in a year and a half and still no prospect of a stable government. Called for early general elections on Sunday October 2 after the short-lived government of pro-European centrist Kiril Petkov collapsed in July, Bulgarian citizens have once again opted for a fragmented and polarized parliament that lacks a majority should allow. Extension of the political crisis that has rocked this Balkan country since April 2021.
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This crisis stems from the desire to return to power of former conservative Prime Minister Boïko Borissov, 63, who led Bulgaria almost continuously between 2009 and 2021, multiplying corruption scandals. His party, the Gerb, is remarkably stable, coming out on top with 25.1% of the vote in Sunday’s poll, according to Alpha Institute projections. But the former police officer, who used to sleep with a gun on his bedside table, has so far not found any political forces willing to support him in forming a majority because he is met with deep rejection from other Bulgarians.
In his place, Kiril Petkov, a 42-year-old former Harvard-educated entrepreneur, made a surprise breakthrough in the third snap general election in November 2021, vowing to fight corruption. But his government, made up of four parties with differing geopolitical leanings, quickly collapsed after showing divisions over relations with Russia in a country where a whole section of public opinion remains Russophile. On Sunday he finished second with 18.9% of the vote, six points fewer than in previous snap elections.
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Too sulphurous profiles
Despite this falling score, he again ruled out a coalition with Mr Borissov. “We promised that we will not enter into a coalition with the Gerb and we will keep this promise,” Petkov said on Sunday evening. Unlike in November 2021, however, he is unlikely to be able to form an alternative government. Their outgoing allies from the Socialist Party and the centre-right Democratic Bulgaria party are only expected to gain 44 seats, leaving the outgoing coalition far short of the required majority of 121 seats.
Several other small formations could certainly theoretically make it possible to complete a majority, but they all have too sulphurous a profile. The rights and freedoms movement, which represents the Turkish minority, made a surprise breakthrough with 14.8% of the vote, but its image remains linked to the many cases of corruption in recent years, not to mention its beating up the oligarch Delyan Peekvski who was sanctioned by the United States in 2021 “for his important role in corruption in Bulgaria”.
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