Bulgaria near final results give pro-EU party clear victory

Bulgaria near final results give pro-EU party clear victory

SOFIA, Bulgaria — A centre-right, pro-European Union party is the clear winner in Bulgaria’s parliamentary election, according to near final results Monday.

With about 96.7 per cent of the votes counted, GERB had 32.6 per cent of the votes, the central election commission said. The results allows party leader Boiko Borisov, a former prime minister, to form his third Cabinet.

The Socialist Party was in second place, polling 27.1 per cent. Its leader, Kornelia Ninova, conceded defeat and said the party wouldn’t take part in a coalition government with GERB.

GERB didn’t win enough votes to govern alone, and will likely seek to form a coalition government with some of the three smaller parties whose votes exceeded the 4 per cent minimum threshold to enter parliament.

The near final results showed the United Patriots, an alliance of three nationalist parties, winning 9.2 per cent and the Party for Rights and Freedoms of ethnic Turks with 8.9 per cent. If confirmed, the anti-establishment Volya (Will) party will enter parliament, scoring just over the minimum 4 per cent required to have seats in the legislature.

Borisov, 57, resigned as prime minister after his party lost the November presidential election to former air force general Rumen Radev, a Socialist, who favours closer relations with Russia.

Parliament was dissolved in January, and the president appointed a caretaker government that will stay until a new government is formed.

Borisov said GERB had a “duty to form a government because this is the will of the people and because we triggered these early elections.”

“These results make is possible for Bulgaria to have a stable government, which is especially important as the country takes over the EU’s rotating six-month presidency in January 2018,” political analyst Antoni Galabov said.

Veselin Toshkov, The Associated Press