Bulgaria holds its breath as voter apathy and extreme ideology cloud another election
Pablo Gutierrez in Sofia

On Sunday, Bulgaria holds its fifth parliamentary election in just two years.

‌Political infighting and unstable coalitions have left the government in disarray, leaving many skeptical that a stable working government can emerge from this round of voting. 

Read more: Who's who and what are the burning issues in Bulgaria's election?

Tony Stoev has not lost hope that the long-running political crisis in Bulgaria will eventually come to an end. The question for him is when?

"For me, voting is the biggest form of protest, so the people have lost faith in the political system and hope that they can change something by voting," Tony Stoev told CGTN.

‌The country is facing a cost-of-living crisis, and Bulgarian politics have taken a bumpy turn, with successive governments collapsing due to resignations and no-confidence votes. 

Kiril Petkov, Boyko Borissov and Kostadin Kostadinov are looking to reign supreme at the polls. /Nikolay Doychinov/AFP
Kiril Petkov, Boyko Borissov and Kostadin Kostadinov are looking to reign supreme at the polls. /Nikolay Doychinov/AFP

Kiril Petkov, Boyko Borissov and Kostadin Kostadinov are looking to reign supreme at the polls. /Nikolay Doychinov/AFP

Political analysts expect low voter turnout for this election, as Bulgarians have become frustrated by the instability.

"Gradually, step by step, the people realize that the political parties and the parliamentary system are not only unstable but irresponsible, something like childish," said Boris Popivanov, a political scientist at Sofia University.

‌At the forefront of the race are three political parties that are polar opposites of each other. 

The GERB - Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, is led by former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, accused of corruption and ousted from power. Plus there is the political coalition formed by We Continue the Change & Democratic Bulgaria. Both parties were formed after the Borissov scandal.

Political observers say the merry-go-round of elections in Bulgaria erodes democracy; voter turnout has plunged, while citizens' distrust in political parties has soared. 

This has fueled the rise of far-right parties that want to pull from the EU and NATO.


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‌Voters worry about the direction of the country and fear that after the upcoming election, their government will remain in limbo.

"Our biggest problem is no matter who wins; they don't have enough votes. That is why we have so many elections in such a small time, and they don't get along. They have contradicting ideologies," said Momchil Krastev.

‌Some political parties are calling for a sixth parliamentary election. Political analysts say the chaos makes everyday life much harder for ordinary people.

"When a government cannot be formed in a new parliament, this parliament is dissolved, and the country is ruled by an interim government which is supported by the president," said Popavinov.

"But this government doesn't have parliamentary support, it can't enact bills, it cannot make a state budget of its own."

‌For now, political observers say the deadlock is likely to remain.


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