This content was published on November 6, 2021 – 12:21 p.m.
SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s center-right GERB is leading its rivals a week before the country’s third general election this year amid an ongoing political crisis, rising coronavirus infections and rising energy costs, a new poll on Saturday found.
But neither the GERB nor any of the other five parties, which are expected to win seats in the new parliament, are likely to win a majority, which holds out the prospect of tough coalition talks to form a government in the poorest EU member state.
Anger over endemic corruption ended the GERB’s nearly ten years in power this spring, but disputes between their political opponents prevented them from forming a government after the national elections in April and July.
Former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s GERB received 24.1% support, up from 23.5% in July when it finished second, but still below the 26.1% it won in April, the opinion poll found Sofia-based Gallup International.
Political instability, concerns about the pandemic and a new mandatory health passport, and high energy costs in the EU’s least vaccinated state have helped GERB mobilize their regional structures and maintain support, analysts say.
According to the poll of 1,081 people from October 23 to 31, GERB’s main rival, the Socialists, is still in second place with 15.6% approval compared to 13.4% in the elections in the July.
A new centrist anti-transplant party, We Continue the Change, founded by two former interim ministers with Harvard training, came third with 13.7% support, the poll found.
The new faction, which analysts say has the potential to unite the opponents of GERB, could expand its support as most undecided voters consider supporting them, Gallup International said in a statement.
Support for the anti-establishment ITN party, which took first place in the July elections with 24.1%, has fallen to 11.3%, with many Bulgarians disappointed that it failed to secure a coalition government form.
In the presidential elections, which are also due to take place on November 14, the incumbent President Rumen Radev, a sharp critic of Borissov, receives 47.6% of the vote, less than 50%, which is necessary for a complete victory, according to the poll .
Radev, who is supported by the socialists, ITN and We Continue the Change party, is likely to run in a runoff election for the largely ceremonial post on November 21st against the rector of Sofia University, Anastas Gerdzhikov, who is supported by GERB.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Gareth Jones)