Disillusioned Bulgarians brace for another snap election


Bulgarians vote for a new parliament on Sunday, the country’s sixth snap election in the last three years. Analysts expect the outcome will again be inconclusive, with little hope of the country acquiring a stable coalition capable of ending years of political instability.

Sunday’s election came about because of the March collapse of a coalition made up of GERB, which had held power for much of the previous 15 years, and the comparatively new, reformist We Continue the Change (PP) party.

The two parties, both strongly pro-EU but riven by personal rivalries and distrust, made it clear in March that in order to form a new government another election was required.

A poll released yesterday by Sofia-based Alpha Research shows GERB leading with 25.1% and PP on 15.4%. The far-right, pro-Russian Revival party follows with a projected 15.2% while the Movement for Rights and Freedom, which mainly represents Bulgaria’s large ethnic Turkish minority, is at 14.8%.

Given the tightness of the race, smaller parties such as the once-dominant Bulgarian Socialist Party and Blue Bulgaria, an alliance of agrarian and conservative parties, are likely to have a say in the make-up of the country’s next government.

The poorest member of the European Union and one of its most corrupt, Bulgaria has experienced a run of revolving-door governments since anti-corruption protests in 2020 helped force out a coalition led by the centre-right GERB party.

President Rumen Radev has had to appoint five caretaker governments in the period since 2020 in coping with a series of inconclusive elections, which have yielded short-lived coalitions that have collapsed swiftly and acrimoniously.

The country is in dire need of a stable, well-functioning government to speed up the flow of EU funds into its ageing infrastructure and to move it towards the eurozone and full status in the open-border Schengen area. Bulgaria and neighbouring Romania dropped the need for passport checks on 31 March for people coming or going by air and sea to and from the Schengen area. Road and rail travellers, however, still face checks.

Voter apathy is a significant challenge in Sunday’s election. The electorate will also choose its representatives for the European Parliament. Many voters are profoundly distrustful of a political class they believe to be corrupt and inept. For this reason, they tend to doubt that their votes will make much if any difference.

Explore more