The elections are over but the hard bargaining is still ahead. Bulgaria’s opposition Socialists have emerged as the biggest party in the nation’s parliamentary poll but they have fallen well short of the clear majority needed to form a new government. Leader Sergei Stanishev is angling for a coalition with the mostly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms but the two parties would still need other partners for a majority. An alliance with the nationalist Attack group is out of the question so the solution might be a grand coalition with the centrist party of Simeon Saxe-Coburg, the outgoing prime minister. However, Stanishev is unlikely to agree to the former king’s demand to remain premier. The prospect of protracted talks could undermine Bulgaria’s pledge to press on with reforms aimed at readying it for EU membership in 2007. Political pundits say there is a risk of Sofia’s entry being delayed by a year.