Bulgaria votes in snap elections

Bulgaria holds today snap parliamentary elections after the last vote in April proved indecisive and a government was not formed, news wires reported. Up to 5 million people are eligible to vote, but due to the summer holiday season no more than 50% of them are expected to go to the polls.

The polls opened at 7.00am local time and will close at 8.00pm. Slightly over 6.7 million voters have the right to elect the 240 members of the next, 46th National Assembly, from among 6,048 candidates nominated by 15 parties and eight coalitions, and two independents. A semi-proportional election system with a single transferable vote is used. At the national level, seats are allocated to parties and coalitions which have gained no less than 4% of the valid votes within Bulgaria and abroad. The 31 multi-member constituencies into which the country is divided are assigned a fixed number of seats, varying from 16 to 4. Balloting is taking place in some 12,200 voting sections in Bulgaria and a record 784 sections abroad in 68 countries. For the first time in these national elections, machine voting is the only method that can be employed in all sections with at least 300 voters: 9,402 domestic sections and 273 overseas sections in 24 countries. Paper ballots are used in approximately 2,800 sections in Bulgaria and 511 sections abroad with fewer than 300 voters, as well as for voting by a mobile ballot box, at hospitals, nursing homes and other social care institutions, at prisons and pre-trial detention facilities, and on board Bulgarian-flagged ships. Voting by paper ballot is also envisaged as a back-up option, in case a machine fails. Any such switch will require a CEC decision. Twenty-nine Bulgarian non-governmental organisations and five international and foreign organisations are monitoring Sunday's elections. Five sociological agencies have registered to conduct exit polls on polling day. The Central Election Commission (CEC) decided on Saturday to allow real-time video recording and streaming of the working process in the voting premises of election sections upon declaring Election Day over.

The last surveys in the days before the vote showed a tie-up between the conservative GERB party, which ruled during the last 10 years, and the populist There is Such a People (ITN) party formed early last year by showman-turned-politician Slavi Trifonov. There are four to five more parties expected to enter the new parliament, which makes the task to form new government extremely challenging.

While not a single party declared ready to rule together with GERB, it seems clear who will not be able to govern, but it is rather unclear whether the so-called protest parties – ITN, Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up! Mafia Out, will be able to get a majority or will try to present a minority cabinet.

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