Bulgaria's Socialists concede election defeat

Violet Powell
April 5, 2017

Direct BSP-GERB coalition for now was impossible and any other double coalition was not sufficient, so it would be extremely hard to form a government, he said.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0400GMT) and first results from exit polls are expected shortly after they close at 8 p.m. (1700GMT).

Borisov, 57, a burly former firefighter and bodyguard of the country's former Communist leader, has been a leading figure in Bulgarian politics for more than a decade.

Tensions over the right of Bulgarian citizens living in Turkey to vote and allegations that Ankara was interfering in the election prompted pre-voting protests. It had hoped to come back to power. "The Socialists failed to convince people that they could be an agent of change".

Borisov, 57, resigned as prime minister after his party lost the presidential election past year.

This was a major success for Kornelia Ninova, 48, who has energised the BSP base since becoming its first female leader a year ago.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said he will resign after Socialist-backed candidate, Rumen Radev, a newcomer to politics, won the run-off of presidential election yesterday (13 November), by a landslide. Borisov resigned, and since no-one else could form a government, another early election has been the result.

On Bulgarian National Radio, NFSB leader Valeri Simeonov said the coalition was willing to negotiate with all parties, except "pro-Turkish ones", because "the present days require unity". The nationalist United Patriots are tipped to come third.

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The Socialist Party of ex-communists has pledged to improve economic relations with Russian Federation, appealing to voters who feel let down by the EU.

Ninova says that if "GERB fails to form a government, we will try to do so". But the Socialists vowed to go furthest, by vetoing European Union sanctions against Vladimir Putin's government.

Borisov, nevertheless, will still have to maneuver between East and West to help keep tensions at bay in the nation, where the economy remains highly dependent on Russian Federation.

Bulgaria's caretaker prime minister said on Friday he was taking steps to prevent any attempts by Turkey to influence an election next week in favour of a political party that represents Bulgarian Turks, the country's largest ethnic minority. Bulgaria is the EU's poorest member.

A populist party Volya (Will) is trying to enter Parliament.

Polls show GERB and the Socialists again winning a majority of seats between them, with GERB probably holding a slight lead.

The Central Election Commission said voter turnout for the election stood at almost 43 percent at 5 p.m., a larger showing than in previous elections.

CEZ acquired 67 percent stake in the power distributor in western Bulgaria in 2004 after placing the highest bid of 281.5 million euros ($303.65 million) in a privatisation tender. A role in government for the United Patriots may also further worsen Bulgaria's strained relations with neighbouring Turkey. In the first half of next year, Bulgaria will hold the rotating presidency of the European Union in the midst of Britain's negotiations with Brussels on the terms of its exit from the bloc.

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