Bulgarians vote in third round of elections as infections mount

Bulgarians vote in third round of elections as infections mount

Sophia Bulgarians are heading to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament and a new president amid a wave of coronavirus infections.

Some 6.7 million eligible voters are hopeful that after inconclusive general elections in April and July, a third attempt to elect 240 lawmakers will lead to a government that extricates the EU’s poorest member from health and economic crises.

Analysts expect a low turnout due to people’s fears of the spread of the coronavirus, slowing uptake of a vaccine and political apathy after an inconclusive election.

The Balkans, the least-vaccinated country in the European Union, where less than a third of adults have been fully vaccinated, reported 334 COVID-related deaths this week in a single day, the country’s highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic.

The low voter turnout for the former ruling GERB party means that despite further erosion in support it can still count on many loyal voters, and is likely to take first place.

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But in recent months, investigations by the current caretaker government into allegations of corruption during former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s tenure have limited his chances of finding coalition partners for his fourth four-year term in the past 12 years.

Political analysts expect the new party, We Continue to Change, created by the former caretaker economy and finance ministers, to come in second and likely to be at the heart of the new government.

Founded just a few weeks ago by two Harvard alumni, Kirill Petkov, 41, and Asin Vasiliev, 44, the party quickly garnered broad support due to their resolute anti-graft measures and pledges of transparency, zero tolerance for corruption and major reforms. sectors.

Opinion polls indicate that as many as seven parties may cross the 4% threshold to enter Parliament.

In Sunday’s presidential election, 23 candidates are vying for the largely ceremonial position.

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Incumbent Rumen Radev, an outspoken critic of Borisov and a vocal supporter of anti-corruption protests last year, has good chances of winning a second five-year term.

Polls indicate that he will win slightly with less than the 50% required for a complete victory in the first round.

If so, then the run-off will take place on November 21, most likely against his main rival for the position – Anastas Gerdzhikov, a university professor.

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