Monday, 05 April 2021 03:09

Bulgarians vote for change, sending three new parties in Parliament

Bulgarians voted on Sunday (4 April) sending in Parliament three new political forces largely representing the anti-corruption protests during the summer. Boyko Borissov’s GERB party remained the largest force, but appears unable to form a government.

According to preliminary official results, Borissov’s coalition (GERB-SDS) emerges first, but with only 23.78% of the votes. In the 2017 elections Borissov’s GERB obtained 33% of the vote.

Second comes “There is such a people”, a new force led by TV showman Slavi Trifonov, with 19.03%. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) comes third with the disastrous result of 14.85%. In public statements in the last days BSP said they would win the election.

Fourth is Democratic Bulgaria with 11,05%, a centre-right opposition force hostile to Borissov, fifth is the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement of Rights and Freedoms (DPS) with 8.92% and sixth – “Stand up, Mafia out”, a new centre-left force with 5.2%.

According to the preliminary results the nationalist party VMRO of Krassimir Karakachanov, who were a junior party to GERB, hasn’t been able to pass the 4% barrier to enter Parliament.

According to analysts, the elections turned to be a slap in the face of the forces which were represented in the outgoing parliament, especially for Borissov’s GERB and its arch-enemy BSP, who had hoped for much better results. Also, the elections kicked out of Parliament the nationalists from VMRO and another nationalist formation – that of businessman Vesselin Mareshki in coalition with Valeri Simeonov’s NFSB party.

Conversely, the big surprise is the success of Slavi Trifonov’s party “There is such a people” which is likely to obtain a mandate to form a government. According to constitution, the force that won the elections will try first to form a government, but it is very unlikely that Borissov could gather support to form a government.

Slavi Trifonov’s party has said they would enter in coalition with the other two forces that emerged from the protests: Democratic Bulgaria, led by pro-European reformist politician Hristo Ivanov and “Stand up, Mafia out”, led by former national Ombudsman Maya Manolova. However, their aggregate force is not enough to form a majority in the 240-seat parliament.

Manolova’s is the only among the three forces to admit the possibility of entering in coalition with BSP.

Trifonov, who was the most sought-after politician during the election night, announced on Facebook that he has Covid symptoms and that he would isolate. His party, compared by some to Beppe Grillo’s Five Stars Movement, was absent from election debates, and aired its messages from Trifonov’s own TV channel. “There is such a people” have campaigned for changing the current proportional system to majoritarian, and for the wide use of referendums.

Borissov made a statement calling for a unity government for which he offered his expertise. BSP, under shock from their election defeat, said they would comment after the announcement of the official results.

“We start to see the shape of a new Bulgaria”, Hristo Ivanov said, adding that he expects all forces who said that they would not enter in coalition with GERB to confirm this, before starting exploratory talks for a new government.

The vote from Bulgarians abroad has not yet been accounted. Usually this votes benefits the party DPS, although this time Democratic Bulgaria is also expected to get a big boost from abroad.

The Brief, powered by bp – Dress rehearsal elections

As Bulgarians are gearing up for a general election on Sunday (4 April), the crucial issue – or risk, for some – is whether Boyko Borissov, who has run the poorest EU country with small interruptions since 2009, will get another mandate.