By Ahmet Gencturk
ATHENS (AA) - Bulgarian voters will go to the polls on Sunday for the country's fifth election since April 2022 in the hope of overcoming political crisis in the country increasing in need of a stable government as it faces major issues that will determine its future in the EU.
The results of last year's Oct. 2 elections gave no party a governing majority. When three attempts by different political parties, out of the seven that entered parliament, failed to form a coalition government, President Rumen Radev had no option but to schedule another snap election to be held on April 2, 2023.
Voter turnout, long on a downward trend in many Western countries, is particularly low in Bulgaria, reflecting growing public disillusionment with the Balkan nation's notoriously unstable politics.
Bulgaria's current political crisis can be traced back to the elections of April 4, 2021, which led to the decline of traditional parties and blocs, including Boyko Borisov's conservative GERB and the Socialist Party (BSP).
This also triggered the rise of new groups, such as There Is Such a People (ITN), Democratic Bulgaria (DB) and Stand up Bulgaria (IBG-NI), which promised to fight widespread corruption, among other things.
However, the parliament produced by that election, in which turnout was 49.1%, also did not yield a government. Radev, appointed former army Gen. Stefan Yanev as caretaker prime minister, called new early elections on July 11, 2021.
In the July ballot, which saw a further drop in turnout to just over 40%, the new self-proclaimed "parties of change," continued their rise but could not secure the seats needed to form a government. This led to another election on Nov. 14 that year.
Even less voters cast their ballots in those elections as turnover fell below 40%. However this time, a coalition emerged from cross-party deliberations between the DB, ITN, BSP, and the newly founded centrist We Continue the Change (PP).
Yet, these parties had little in common and suffered serious disagreements in the government, particularly over foreign policy, and lost a vote of confidence for the first time in the country's history.
Their short-lived administration eventually came to an end in June 2022, followed by more unsuccessful attempts to form a new coalition, precipitating in the fourth snap elections on Oct. 2, 2022 that also gave no bloc a clear majority
Radev has now once again called for early elections set to be held this Sunday. Meanwhile, he appointed senior politician Galab Doven as caretaker prime minister.
The most recent polls suggest that the electoral blocs GERB-SBS, led by Borisov, and PP-DB, led by Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, will compete to win the most seats in the parliament.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (HOH), a centrist party that has the profound support of the Bulgaria's Turkish minority, as well as its Pomak and Roma communities, is projected to be the third-biggest party and play the role of kingmaker.
Newly founded, the far-right Revival Party, the BSP, and The Left electoral coalition are also expected to pass the 4% threshold and to be represented in the country's 240-seat parliament.