Bulgarians began voting on Sunday for a new parliament in the fifth election in two years in a country divided by war in Ukraine, setting a record number of ballots in Europe.
The fifth round of voting takes place in light of the growing dissatisfaction with the political elites, which many do not see their determination to confront corruption.
Opinion polls show that the vote will likely leave the country without an effective parliamentary majority again, which casts a shadow over its ambitions to join the eurozone in the near term and use EU aid to effectively recover from the impact of the "Covid-19" pandemic.
Polls indicate that the conservative parties "Citizens for European Development for Bulgaria" led by Boyko Borisov (63 years), and the liberals "Let's continue the change" led by Kirill Petkov (42 years) will be tied in the poll (25 or 26%).
The "Let's Continue Change" party – which is led by a former businessman – presents this time a joint list with the right-wing coalition "Democratic Bulgaria", but even if they win, it will be difficult to form an alliance, because the Russian war on Ukraine has complicated the situation by exacerbating differences between the political class. .
Polling stations opened at 7:00 am local time (04:00 GMT), while the first opinion poll estimates are expected to be published when voters leave the polling stations around 8:00 pm (17:00 GMT).
Far from the hopes that arose from the wave of anti-corruption demonstrations in the summer of 2020, this country – which has a population of 6.5 million, is the poorest country in the European Union – mired in crisis.
And facing the various Bulgarian parties since the fall of former conservative Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, after a decade of assuming power, it is difficult to reach a coalition-building in a country where there are successive interim governments.
Parvan Simeonov of the Gallup International Institute believes that "Bulgarian society is demanding a solution in the face of war and inflation," but a large number of 2020 demonstrators are disappointed, and it seems that the abstention rate will be large.
In turn, Lukas Masek, associate researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute for Central and Eastern Europe, questions the possibility of finding a "possible way out of this troubling cycle of elections unless Boyko Borissov withdraws."
"We find the same pattern repeated in other Central European countries: a former leader clings to power, while other parties refuse to ally with him, without much in common between them," he adds.