Sunday, January 16, 2022

Bulgarians vote in third electoral round as infections rise

SOFIA, Bulgaria (NWN) – Bulgarians are voting to elect a new parliament and a new president on Sunday amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

Some 6.7 million eligible voters expect the government to lift the EU’s poorest member out of health and economic woes as a result of a third attempt to elect 240 lawmakers, following inconclusive general elections in April and July.

Analysts predict two inconclusive elections will result in lower turnout due to public concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, a sluggish vaccine intensification and political apathy.

The Balkan country, the least vaccinated in the European Union, with less than a third of its adults fully vaccinated, this week reported 334 COVID-related deaths in a single day since the start of the pandemic. The country has the highest daily toll since.

The low turnout will favor the former ruling GERB party in that despite a further decline in support, many loyal voters can still be counted on, and it is likely to end first.

In recent months, however, investigations into alleged corruption during the tenure of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov by the current caretaker government are limiting opportunities to find coalition partners for his fourth four-year term in the past 12 years.

Political analysts are predicting that a new party, We Continue the Change, formed by the economy and finance ministers of the previous caretaker government, will come in second place and possibly at the core of a new government.

Founded only a few weeks earlier by two Harvard graduates, Kirill Petkov, 41, and Assen Vasiliev, 44, the party gained widespread support for its steadfast anti-corruption actions and commitments to bringing transparency, zero tolerance for corruption, and major reforms. has done. Area.

Opinion polls show that seven parties can cross the 4% threshold to enter parliament.

A total of 23 candidates are in the fray for the largely ceremonial office in Sunday’s presidential election.

Rumen Radev, a vocal critic of Borisov and a strong supporter of last year’s anti-corruption protests, has a good chance of winning a second five-year term.

Polls show that he would win slightly less than the 50% required for an outright victory in the first round.

If so, there will be a runoff vote on November 21, most likely against his main competitor for the position – Anastas Gerdzhikov, a university professor.

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