Bulgaria’s Centre-Right and Populist Parties are in a ‘Photo Finish’ election.

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Bulgaria’s Centre-Right and Populist Parties are in a ‘Photo Finish’ election.

Exit polls published Sunday evening after Bulgaria’s second parliamentary election in three months showed former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s centre-right party and a new populist party led by singer-turned-politician Slavi Trifonov neck-and-neck.

According to several exit polls, Trifonov’s There is Such a People (ITN) party would finish within 1% of Borisov’s GERB party.

The vote, according to analyst Genoveva Petrova of bTV, was headed for a “photo finish.”

GERB was badly damaged after major anti-corruption protests in summer 2020, and after the previous vote in April, it was isolated in a fractured legislature and unable to find partners to rule despite coming first.

Since then, the 62-year-old Borisov – a former bodyguard with a black belt in karate – has taken a succession of additional blows as a result of revelations by the interim cabinet about inadequate governance and charges of corruption when he was in office.

On top of that, the US imposed extraordinary sanctions against Bulgarian oligarchs who, according to Borisov’s detractors, were given preferential treatment while he was in charge of the European Union’s poorest and most graft-ridden member state.

Borisov has denied any wrongdoing and, as he prepared to vote on Sunday, continued to accuse the interim administration of unfairly persecuting him and of sowing turmoil.

Trifonov’s ITN soared to a surprising second place in April, with 17.6% of the vote.

At 4 p.m. local time (1300 GMT), just 27.4% of eligible voters had cast ballots, down from 40% in April.

Georgi Panichev, 67, said he was dissatisfied with the present administration’s “excesses” and that he was voting for “stability,” a reference to veteran Borisov, whose political longevity has distinguished Bulgaria’s post-communist history.

Victoria Nikolova, 34, told AFP that “changes in health, education, and reduced corruption” were her top priorities.

She stated she hoped “our children don’t emigrate when they grow up” as she walked to the polls with her two young girls.

Even if GERB wins the election, political expert Strahil Deliyski believes that “they will not govern” since other parties are rejecting them.

Trifonov’s ITN has already refused to collaborate with either GERB, the opposition Socialists, or the MRF, the Turkish minority party.

Instead, it intends to rely on the support of two parties that emerged from the protests last summer: the right-wing Democratic Bulgaria, which polled at 12%, and the left-wing Stand Up! Mafia Out, which polled at 5%-6%.

Trifonov is not seeking for prime minister and has stated that he will not serve in that capacity.

“It’s time to finish what we’ve started.” Brief News from Washington Newsday.

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