A new Bulgarian political party formed just a few weeks ago and dedicated to tackling the endemic corruption of the Balkan nation is set to defeat the party of the country’s former right-wing populist prime minister and attempt to form a new government.
Exit polls, partial counts and unofficial weekend election vote tally suggest the party – We Keep Changing – with around 26% of the vote, edged the former GERB party. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, with about 23% of the vote.
Official results are expected to be released from Monday, although final results may not be known for days.
Turnout was lukewarm at 33 percent of eligible voters. Since neither of the two main parties has anything close to a majority, it could take weeks or months of wrangling between around seven parties to win the 240-seat parliament seat before a government not be named.
Sunday’s vote was the third Bulgaria held this year after two inconclusive polls exacerbated voters’ frustration with the economy and corruption.
Bulgaria is the poorest member of the European Union and has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which has limited travel and remittances for citizens with jobs in the richest regions of the continent.
Bulgaria has the lowest Covid vaccination rate in the EU, with less than a quarter of eligible residents vaccinated and cases overwhelming a fragile health system. Three men died on Sunday when a fire broke out in the Covid department of a hospital in southern Bulgaria.
The country of seven million people is also teeming with so-called Corruption, including in awarding major contracts and distributing benefits to the elite. In a case that sparked outrage earlier this year, a state-owned bank that was supposed to support small and medium-sized businesses instead funneled € 500 million to just eight companies.
We Continue to Change was founded in September by two Harvard University graduates Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, each having briefly served as ministers in the current interim government.
The party garnered support from left, right and center of the political spectrum on a platform of anti-corruption, government transparency and reform.
“Now is the time to show that Bulgaria is on the path to change and that there is no turning back,” Mr Petkov, a 41-year-old entrepreneur, told reporters on Sunday evening. , according to news agencies.
Mr Borisov, a 62-year-old former firefighter who became mayor of Sofia, has dominated Bulgarian politics for more than a decade. Last year, photos appeared of him lying on a bed with stacks of € 500 bills, gold bricks and a Glock 9mm handgun on a nightstand next to him, prompting questions about his personal associations and daily habits.
Exit polls and unofficial tallies have also shown that President Rumen Radev will face a challenger in a runoff on November 21, with the turnout remaining below 50%. The presidency is a largely symbolic position.
The Independent Gt