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Anger, apathy and distrust as Bulgaria votes

Bulgarian pensioner Stefka Popova takes a dim view of the politicians running for office in elections Sunday in the EU's poorest member state. "I won't vote. They've lost all respect for their own people," the retired metallurgy worker told AFP as she sold newspapers in Sofia to supplement her meagre pension. Her anger was exacerbated by the discovery on Saturday of 350,000 illegal ballot papers at a printing firm whose owner is reportedly close to the former prime minister's party.

Tense, tight election in EU's poorest country Bulgaria

Bulgarians voted Sunday in a close snap general election marred by accusations of vote-rigging and expected to result in a political stalemate and fresh protests in the EU's poorest member. Despite its ouster by mass protests just three months ago, the conservative party of former bodyguard ex-premier Boyko Borisov, promising stability and infrastructure development, was tipped to win the most votes.

Rightist GERB holds lead in Bulgaria's election

By Tsvetelia Tsolova and Sam Cage SOFIA (Reuters) - The rightist GERB party held the lead in Bulgaria's election on Sunday but its prospects of forming another government, after the last one was ousted by protests, looked uncertain after its potential partner ruled out a deal. Turnout was the lowest in post-communist history, at around 53 percent, reflecting the disaffection with the political elite in a country where unemployment is close to an eight-year high.

Final polls predict tight Bulgarian election

Bulgaria's main parties are headed for a close race in Sunday's elections, final polls suggested Friday as analysts predicted a hung parliament and fresh protests in the EU's poorest country. According to eight new opinion surveys, former bodyguard ex-premier Boyko Borisov's GERB party is forecast to be the top vote-getter, only three months after resigning amid Bulgaria's biggest unrest in years.

Deadlock looms for Bulgaria as election nears

By Sam Cage VELIKO TARNOVO, Bulgaria (Reuters) - Bulgaria's two main political parties made final pitches to frustrated voters before an election on Sunday that opinion polls show is unlikely to produce a decisive outcome for either side. Former bodyguard Boiko Borisov's center-right GERB party was forced to resign in February after thousands of people took to the streets to protest against high utility bills, entrenched corruption and low living standards.

Deadlock, instability loom after Bulgaria election

A winter of discontent in Bulgaria, when mass protests forced out the government, could give way to a spring of political deadlock and instability after elections Sunday in the EU's poorest country. The outcome is expected to be a fragmented parliament full of many of the same politicians who have run Bulgaria since the end of communism two decades ago. Voters are stuck in a blind alley, facing a "choice between the same parties they protested against this winter", Ivan Krastev from the Centre for Liberal Strategies think-tank said.

Bulgarian burned himself alive 'to rise against the misery'

"I wanted to rebel, to rise against the misery," said Dimitar Dimitrov, lighting a cigarette with hands badly scarred from when he set himself on fire during recent mass protests in Bulgaria. Six people set themselves ablaze in February and March amid massive anti-poverty street rallies that helped bring down the Bulgarian government and opened the way to snap elections on May 12. But of the six, only Dimitrov, who staged his protest in front of the presidential palace in the capital, Sofia, on March 13, survived his desperate act.

Bulgaria PM urges end to political bickering to avoid unrest

Bulgaria's caretaker prime minister urged political parties Tuesday to stop bickering over a wiretapping scandal ahead of snap elections next month, which he hinted could renew popular unrest. "Bulgaria's democracy is sick. The political parties tend to generate scandals rather than projects for solving the crisis," Marin Raykov told a joint press conference with chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov. After massive anti-poverty and corruption protests in February and March ousted conservative premier Boyko Borisov, "the people from the streets went home.

Bulgaria president warns of instability after vote

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev warned Sunday that his country could enter a long period of instability if politicians failed to form a government after snap elections on May 12. "The most important thing is what will happen after the elections -- whether we enter a period of prolonged instability or whether we form a stable, legitimate government" which gets down to work, Plevneliev told state BNR radio in an interview Sunday.

Wiretap scandal hits Bulgaria's ex-PM ahead of vote

A scandal about alleged wiretapping of political opponents of incumbent Bulgarian premier Boyko Borisov is starting to hurt his re-election chances in May, analysts and opinion polls suggested Friday. Adding to his troubles, Sofia's chief prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov also resigned Friday after leaked wiretaps showed he discussed a bribery probe against ex-farming minister Miroslav Naydenov with Borisov and Naydenov himself.
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