Polls have opened in the Bulgarian general election. Protests over poverty and corruption forced the government to call an early vote, however an expected close result could leave the European Union’s poorest country without a working administration.
The right wing GERB party, which controlled the parliament until the election was called, managed to maintain one of the lowest debt levels in the EU in order to maintain a currency peg to the euro. However, growth and wages are very low.
The opposition socialists, headed by Sergei Stanishev, have pledged to spend more and create jobs. The last time the Socialists were in power Bulgaria went through a credit boom followed by a deep recession.
The outgoing GERB, led by former bodyguard Boiko Borisov, have suffered extensive political damage following a wiretapping scandal and also the news that fake ballot papers had been found belonging to a party councillor.
The election campaign has been characterized by mud-slinging rather than policy debate. This could make forming a coalition more difficult.
Polls close early this evening.