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Ousted Bulgarian PM widens lead in polls ahead of vote


Bulgaria's recently ousted prime minister Boyko Borisov and his conservative GERB party look likely to return to power in snap elections next month, as they continue to lead opinion polls.

The latest survey by the Gallup institute on Wednesday put GERB ahead with 38.5 percent of votes, compared with 32.8 percent for the opposition Socialists among 998 people polled.

Opinion polls in the run-up to the elections have shown a widening gap between Borisov's party, which resigned in February amid nationwide protests over poverty and corruption, and its nearest competitor, even as both have seen growing support.

Last week, the Mediana institute gave GERB 26.4 percent of votes, ahead of the Socialists' 23.7 percent.

Gallup analyst Kancho Stoichev noted Wednesday that the results could still change depending on turnout for the May 12 polls in the European Union's poorest country.

Among those who were sure to vote, 32 percent said they would favour the Socialists, while 31 percent said they would vote for GERB, the Gallup poll showed.

Political observers have described Borisov's decision to step down after months of street rallies as a "successful strategic move", leaving protestors scrambling to put up a decent electoral fight.

Many joined small parties with little hope of securing the necessary four percent to enter parliament.

Fifty-nine percent of those questioned by Gallup meanwhile expected no change from the elections, insisting the protests should continue, while 37 percent said a new party was needed to sweep away all the other existing parties.

Another noticeable rise in the polls has been that of the ultra-nationalist Ataka party, which had 8.5 percent support according to Gallup, up from around 5.0 percent a month ago.

The Muslim minority party MDL, already in parliament, is meanwhile credited with 8.1 percent.