Bulgaria's ruling centre-right GERB party, which has been in power for almost a decade despite a series of corruption scandals, won Sunday's general election but fell short of absolute majority and will be unable to form a government on its own, exit polls showed on Sunday.
Seven parties, including three new political formations with a strong anti-corruption agenda, cross the 4% threshold for entry into parliament, according to exit polls by Sofia-based polling agencies Gallup International Balkan and Alpha Research, quoted by public television BNT.
Exit polls conducted by Alpha Research showed support for GERB led by three-times prime minister Boyko Borissov at 25.7%. According to Sofia-based Gallup International, GERB has won 25.0%.
There Is Such a People, a new populist formation led by TV talk show host Slavi Trifonov, and main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, the second largest political force in the dissolved parliament, are competing for the second place in a neck-to-neck race, each backed by around 17%, the exit polls showed.
They are followed by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which is drawing support mainly among Bulgarian ethnic Turks and Muslims and has been seen as a traditional kingmaker, with 11.0% and the right-wing, anti-status quo Democratic Bulgaria coalition with 10.4%, according to Alpha Research.
Exit polls by Gallup International, however, give Democratic Bulgaria 10.5% versus 10.2% for MRF.
Two more political formations - Rise Up, Thugs Out! led by ex-ombudsman Maya Manolova, and strongly nationalist VMRO, the junior partner of GERB in the outgoing government coalition, are also expected to enter the new parliament.
Amid fears the pandemic could keep voters away, turnout was just under 40% by 5 pm local time, three hours before polling stations in the country closed, the electoral commission said.