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Bulgarian centre-right hold lead in March, poll shows

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SOFIA (Reuters) - Support for Bulgaria's centre-right GERB led by ex-Prime Minister Boiko Borisov fell in March after protests about living standards but it held a lead over the Socialists ahead of May elections, a poll showed on Saturday.

Support for GERB was 19.7 percent in March, down from 22 percent in February while backing for the Socialists fell to 18.6 percent from 22 percent in the previous month, according to the Gallup International poll.

Backing for the far-right Attack party led jumped to 5.0 percent from 1.2 percent in February, according to the poll of 1,013 people carried out between March 7 and 12.

Tens of thousands of people have protested for more than a month in the European Union's poorest country against rising unemployment and low living standards. The demonstrations led to Borisov's government resigning last month, and the Balkan country will hold parliamentary elections on May 12.

Support for the ethnic Turkish MRF party fell to 5.2 percent in March from 7.3 percent a month earlier, the poll showed.

Parties need to win at least four percent of the vote to gain seats in parliament.

Bulgarians live on an average monthly wage of 400 euros (343.96 pounds) and pensions of less than half that. Unemployment hit 12 percent in February, its highest since April 2005.

Leaders of the protests that felled Borisov's government have so far failed to unite to form a single political party to challenge at May's election. While no party is likely to win a majority, the lack of a new grouping will make it easier to stitch together a coalition, analysts say.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Jason Webb)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130316/bulgarian-centre-right-hold-lead-march-poll-shows