Bulgaria's ruling centre-right GERB party led by three-times prime minister Boyko Borissov has won the April 4 general election with 26.18% support, but forming a government coalition in the new fragmented parliament will be hard to achieve, final official results showed on Tuesday.
With 100% of the votes counted, nationalist-populist VMRO, the junior partner of GERB in the outgoing coalition cabinet, fell just short of the 4% entry threshold with 3.64% backing and will not enter the new parliament, according to data released by the Central Electoral Commission.
The other GERB partner in the coalition government, nationalist NFSB, also failed to cross the 4% threshold. NFSB, running in tandem with populist Volya party, gained 2.37% support.
Besides GERB, five other parties, including three new political formations running on anti-corruption, anti-establishment tickets, will enter the new parliament.
There Is Such a People, a new populist formation led by TV talk show host Slavi Trifonov, came in second with 17.66% of the vote, followed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which was GERB's main opposition in the dissolved parliament, with 15.01% support.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which traditionally is drawing support mainly among Bulgarian ethnic Turks and Muslims and has been seen as a traditional kingmaker in the last 30 years, came in fourth place with 10.49% of the votes.
Anti-status quo, pro-reform Democratic Bulgaria coalition followed in fifth place with 9.45% backing. Last came Rise Up, Thugs Out!, a new political formation riding on a strong anti-corruption wave and led by ex-ombudsman Maya Manolova, with 4.72% support.
Voter turnout was 40.18%, the electoral commission said. This compares to a turnout of 54.07% in the 2017 parliamentary elections.
According to the constitution, Bulgaria's president Rumen Radev should hand a mandate to form government to a candidate selected by the party which has won the largest number of votes. If the election winner fails to propose a government that will be backed by at least 121 of 240 members of parliament, the president should hand the mandate to a candidate proposed by the second-largest parliamentary group. If that candidate also fails to propose a cabinet that would be backed by a parliamentary majority, the president is required to hand the mandate to a representative of any of the remaining parliamentary groups.
If no government is formed after that round, the president will appoint a caretaker government and call new elections.
Shortly after the first partial results were published, GERB leader Boyko Borissov urged all parties in the new parliament to agree on a cabinet composed of technocrats to steer the country through the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of the year and ensure its economic recovery, to be backed by EU funds. Prior to the elections, however, four of the five other parties that will enter the new parliament, ruled out working with GERB.
Meanwhile, the executive bureau of the Bulgarian Socialist Party resigned following the election result but party leader Kornelia Ninova said she would not step down. The party subsequently proposed to back an "anti-GERB" government with participation from There Is Such a People, Democratic Bulgaria, and Rise Up, Thugs Out!. However, the offer was quickly turned down by one of the members of There Is Such a People, whose leader has been quarantined after displaying symptoms of Covid-19.