Sunday, 04 June 2023 06:17 GMT

Bulgarians vote in fifth general election in two years amid deep divisions over Ukraine conflict

(MENAFN) Bulgarians are preparing to go to the polls for their fifth general election in just two years, setting a record within the European Union. The country, which is a member of both the EU and NATO, has been mired in a political crisis since 2020, with deep divisions exacerbated by Russia's invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

The Balkan nation of 6.5 million people has historically and culturally close ties to Russia, but it is also committed to its membership in the EU and NATO. Bulgaria saw massive anti-corruption protests in 2018, but rather than bringing about the hoped-for change, the demonstrations have led to a series of elections and unstable coalitions.

Conservative Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who faced allegations of graft during his decade in power, was ousted in 2021. However, his removal has not resulted in greater stability, with the country experiencing a deeply fragmented parliament and a series of interim governments.

The current election takes place against a backdrop of social and economic challenges, with high inflation and everyday problems like poverty and inadequate medical care weighing heavily on the minds of voters. Meanwhile, the fight against corruption has taken a back seat, leading to disillusionment among many of the protesters from 2020.

The main players in Sunday's election are the same as in previous rounds. Borisov's GERB party is neck-and-neck with the reformist We Continue the Change (PP), led by Harvard-educated Kiril Petkov, who briefly served as prime minister in 2022.

Despite the challenges facing Bulgaria, some analysts see hope for the future. "Faced with war and inflation, (Bulgarian) society is crying out for a solution," said political analyst Parvan Simeonov. It remains to be seen whether the outcome of this election will provide the solution that many Bulgarians are seeking.


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