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Bulgarians elect their government for the sixth time in three years

Photo: Nikolay Coychinov Agence France-Presse Boyko Borissov, who was driven from power after protests against corruption in 2020, is making a comeback. Polls credit his conservative GERB party with around 25% of voting intentions.

Vessela Sergueva – Agence France-Presse in Sofia

Posted at 10:43 a.m.

  • Europe

Bulgarians vote on Sunday to elect their deputies, alongside the European elections, with few illusions about the outcome of these sixth legislative elections in three years which should mark the return of the conservatives.

The winds of change that blew across the Balkan country in the summer of 2020 have well and truly subsided. And the man who was driven from power after demonstrations against corruption, former Prime Minister Boïko Borissov, is making a comeback.

Polls credit his conservative party GERB about 25% of voting intentions.

That's ten points ahead of the reformers of the Let's Keep Change/Democratic Bulgaria (CC/BD) coalition, who have failed to maintain the momentum born three years ago against a backdrop of population weariness.

In the polling stations of Sofia, which close at 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. in Quebec), the residents, few of whom travel, confide their exasperation.

“We are tired of elections, we want stability and prosperity for our country,” Margarita Semerdzhieva, a 72-year-old retiree, told AFP, as analysts talk about already the specter of a seventh vote in the fall.

“Strong man”

< p>Faced with a succession of elections and an unprecedented political crisis since the end of communism, it is the veteran “Boïko” who is doing well.

A former firefighter and bodyguard, this colossus with a shaved head conveys the image of a “strong man”, and this is precisely what 49% of Bulgarians are looking for according to a recent study by the Open Society Institute.< /p>

By voting in a school on the outskirts of the capital, the 64-year-old official posed as a guarantor of “stability”, at a time of great uncertainty in Europe with the war in Ukraine.

Enough to seduce in this poorest country in the European Union, where the current slump has put reforms on hold and pushed back accession to the euro zone and compromised full accession to the Schengen free movement area.

“The situation must finally calm down. We tried all kinds of experiments to replace Boyko Borissov but no one succeeded,” says Blagovesta Petkova, a 44-year-old teacher.

But Mr. Borissov's critics point to his links with MP Delyan Peevski, a former media mogul targeted by American and British sanctions for corruption.

At the head of party of the Turkish minority MDL (15% of voting intentions), Mr. Peevski said he was “ready to govern”, evoking on Sunday the need for a “new start” so that “the country can develop”.


Opposite, the reform camp warns against a backtracking, under the influence of “shadow forces.”

“We are at a crossroads,” warned co-founder Kiril Petkov of CC who briefly led the government in 2022, while his ally Hristo Ivanov called “not to leave Bulgaria in the hands of Peevski”.

“It’s the scourge” of the country, former Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov commented to AFP.

With Boyko Borissov, Mr. Peevski did not only one goal according to him: “to preserve the status quo”, particularly at the level of justice and the intelligence services, for fear that cases will be delved into that could incriminate them.

Julia Yanakieva, a 29-year-old translator, said she was “sickened by the triumphant return” of the two men. “Why then did we protest ? How come our people give up so easily! “, she despairs.

In the opinion of experts, the reformists of CC/BD risk being sanctioned at the polls for having agreed to govern with their enemies of GERB, after having condemned them so much.

The two forces put aside their differences in June 2023 to form a pro-Western government and block the way for the interim cabinets set up by President Rumen Radev, sensitive to the Kremlin's theses. But this fragile union only lasted nine months.

The campaign, associated with that of the European elections, was marked by a wave of propaganda and anti- EU in a country where nostalgia for the communist era remains strong. In this context, the pro-Russian nationalists of Vazrajdane (Renaissance) are credited with around 15% of the votes.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116