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Bulgaria's GERB party leads ahead of Nov. 14 election- survey

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By Reuters
Bulgaria's GERB party leads ahead of Nov. 14 election- survey
Bulgaria's GERB party leads ahead of Nov. 14 election- survey   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

SOFIA – Bulgaria’s centre-right GERB party leads its rivals a week ahead of the country’s third parliamentary election this year amid a prolonged political crisis, surging coronavirus infections and rising energy costs, a new opinion poll showed on Saturday.

But neither GERB nor any of the other five parties expected to win seats in the new parliament is expected to win a majority, raising the prospect of tough coalition talks on forming a government in the poorest European Union member state.

Anger over endemic corruption put an end to GERB‘s almost decade in power this spring, but wrangling among its political opponents prevented them from forming a government after either of the national elections in April and in July.

Former prime minister Boyko Borissov’s GERB garnered 24.1% backing, up from 23.5% in July, when it took second place but still below the 26.1% it won in April, the opinion poll by Sofia-based Gallup International showed.

The political instability, concerns about the pandemic and a new obligatory health pass, as well as high energy costs in the EU’s least vaccinated state, have helped GERB mobilise its regional structures and maintain its support, analysts say.

GERB‘s main rival, the Socialists, remain a distant second with 15.6% backing, up from 13.4% in the July election, according to the survey, which was conducted from Oct. 23 to 31 among 1,081 people.

A new centrist anti-graft party, We Continue the Change, set up by two Harvard-educated former interim ministers, came third with 13.7% support, the survey showed.

The new faction, which analysts say has the potential to unite GERB‘s opponents, may further expand its support, as most undecided voters are considering backing it, Gallup International said in a statement.

Support for the anti-establishment ITN party, which came first in the July election with 24.1%, has tumbled to 11.3%, with many Bulgarians disappointed over its failure to forge a coalition government.

In a presidential election also due to take place on Nov. 14, incumbent President Rumen Radev, a harsh critic of Borissov, is seen winning 47.6% of the vote, below the 50% needed for an outright win, the poll showed.

Radev, endorsed by the Socialists, ITN and We Continue the Change party, is likely to face Sofia University Rector Anastas Gerdzhikov, backed by GERB, in a run-off of the election for the largely ceremonial post on Nov. 21.