A newly founded anti-corruption party held a short lead in the preliminary tally for the Bulgarian parliamentary elections on Sunday.
A parallel count led by Gallup International gave the centrist We Continue the Change party 26.3% of the vote, edging the center-right opposition party GERB of former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov by just over three points percentage.
Founded just a few weeks ago by two Harvard graduates Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, the party quickly gained support due to its resolute actions against corruption and its commitments to bring transparency, zero tolerance for corruption and reforms. in key sectors of the poorest member of the European Union. .
“We will be the number one political force,” Petkov told reporters after the publication of the first results. “We will have a majority of 121 deputies out of the 240 seats in parliament and Bulgaria will have a regular coalition cabinet.”
It could be days before the final official results are announced. If they confirmed the initial tally, Petkov would be given the mandate to form a new government.
Petkov said his party was open to coalition talks with all parties that were part of last year’s protests against Boyko Borisov’s government. Investigations by the current interim government have revealed suspected cases of corruption.
“Now is the time to show that Bulgaria is on the path to change and that there is no turning back,” said Petkov.
After inconclusive general elections were held in Bulgaria in April and July, many hoped that this third attempt to elect 240 lawmakers would result in a government capable of pulling the country out of its health and economic crises.
Five other parties appeared to be heading for victory in the 240-seat hemicycle, according to the exit poll.
They include the Turkish ethnic party MRF with 11.4%, the Socialist Party with 10.4% of support, the anti-elite party There is such a people with 9.3%, the liberal democratic Bulgaria anti-corruption group with 6.4% and the Nationalist Renaissance Party. with 5%.
Sunday’s vote for a new parliament and a new president came amid a wave of coronavirus infections.
The Balkan country is the least vaccinated in the EU, with less than a third of its adults fully vaccinated. Bulgaria last week reported 334 COVID-related deaths in a single day, a pandemic record.
The Gallup International exit poll also suggested that President Rumen Radev has a significant lead in his quest for a second five-year term, but that he will still have to face runner-up Anastas Gerdzhikov in a run-off on the 21st. November, because the participation rate remained below the required 50. %.
Radev, a vocal critic of Borisov, said on Sunday that he voted for freedom, legality and justice.
“These are the values I defend,” he said after voting. “The stakes are huge and will determine whether the state-building process continues or whether those operating behind the scenes regain institutional power. “
Some 6.7 million people were eligible to vote. The Central Election Commission said the preliminary voter turnout was nearly 40 percent, lower than in previous elections.