The fight against endemic corruption and a growing financial crisis top the list as Bulgaria faces elections today. Growing voter anger over the government’s economic performance and widespread fraud is expected to see the Socialists sent packing.
Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev’s Socialists took Bulgaria into the European Union, lowered taxes and raised salaries. But critics level accusations of incompetence at the administration, and an inability to take on organised crime. Opinion polls give the conservative GERB party of Sofia mayor Boiko Borisov around 30 per cent support and a shot at forming the next government. He has promised to fight corruption, but the likelihood of a coalition administration may water down his plans. The liberal MRF party represents Bulgaria’s ethnic Turks and other Muslims, and is expected to remain in third place. Bulgaria is Europe’s poorest member, and lost millions of euros in EU money last year as punishment for failing to tackle corruption. It has been badly-hit by the recession, and may be next in line to appeal for an International Monetary Fund bail-out.