Bulgaria's ex-premier to challenge election result

Bulgaria's ex-premier Boyko Borisov said Thursday he will challenge the results of Sunday's elections that saw his conservatives come first but fall short of a majority, and seek a fresh vote.

"For the first time in Bulgaria's history maybe, the party that won the elections will challenge their results. The motive is grave violations of the regulations" on the day before the election, Borisov told journalists in his first public appearance since the vote.

"The best is to go for new elections," he added.

The elections were held three months after nationwide protests about poverty and corruption in the European Union's poorest country prompted the 53-year-old former bodyguard to annonce his government's resignation.

Final seat distribution showed GERB getting 97 lawmakers in the badly split 240-seat legislature -- far below a majority -- making it practically impossible for Borisov to win support for a cabinet from any of the other three parties.

Bulgaria's central electoral commission, President Rosen Plevneliev and international observers have all given a clean bill of health to the vote despite voicing concerns about a scandal-ridden campaign.

Borisov said Thursday that failure to get a cancellation of the vote would oblige him to propose a minority cabinet, even though he said he knows this will fail.

"If the president hands a mandate to GERB, I will try for a minority cabinet because I will owe this to the over one million Bulgarian voters who supported us... I will propose it knowing that it will not be accepted (by parliament)," Borisov said Thursday.

Under Bulgaria's constitution, the PM-designate of the largest group in parliament is the first to receive the mandate for government formation that is then passed on to the next party in case of failure.

Bulgaria's opposition Socialists, who came in second with 84 lawmakers, have already said they favoured a non-partisan government of technocrats led by economist Plamen Oresharski and will try to get backing for it from the Turkish minority MRF party that took 36 seats and the ultra nationalist Ataka that has 23 seats.

"In the current configuration with four political parties in parliament, a stable government cannot be formed... It is absolutely not serious to talk about a consensus cabinet," Borisov said, citing insurmountable differences in the platforms of the Socialists, MRF and Ataka.