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The virus epidemic overshadows the Bulgarian parliamentary elections

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) – After months of anti-government protests over corruption, stalled reforms and a stagnant economy in the EU’s poorest member state, Bulgarians are preparing for parliamentary elections, overshadowing the coronavirus epidemic.

It is widely predicted that the election will create a fragmented parliament that will fight for a new government, but Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s ruling party may still be the largest party in the House.

As many as 6.7 million eligible voters will go to the polls on Sunday morning to elect 240 lawmakers.

Borisov’s nomination for a new term, the fourth in a decade, could be successful as his center-right GERB party is being touted by analysts for victory. They note that the opposition remains fragmented, “that” in times of crisis, voters prefer the status quo.

Opinion polls suggest that up to seven parties could cross the 4% threshold to enter parliament as a result of Sunday’s vote.

The polls are led by Borisov’s party, which is about 5 percentage points ahead of the main opposition group, the Socialists, but is far from gaining an absolute majority to lead alone.

Several small groups of protesters could enter parliament for the first time, but the lack of a unifying figure prevents them from becoming key players.

Borisov, a 61-year-old political traitor, has so far been able to maintain his career support at home and abroad, combining his populist rhetoric on the street with his pro-Western rhetoric.

But during last year’s protests, thousands took to the streets, accusing Borisov of protecting his government from oligarchs, refusing to fight corruption, reforming the judiciary, and suppressing freedom of speech.

Despite these setbacks, his reputation remains high among his loyal supporters, who rely on government-sponsored work to overcome economic hardship.

The opposition has criticized the government for its ineffective response to the epidemic. The spread of bad vaccines, poorly coordinated քաշ walking, added to this dissatisfaction.

In recent weeks, the country of 7 million people in the Balkans has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, recording a daily record of more than 5,000 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total to more than 350,000 with more than 13,000 deaths. So far, less than 500,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Bulgaria.

But while support for Bulgarian leaders is showing signs of deteriorating due to the epidemic, it could boost the expected low turnout due to fears of infection, lack of postal or proxy voting.

“There is no doubt that COVID will influence this election, I expect below-average turnout,” political analyst Dimitar Gan told the Associated Press, adding that the general election has gained 50% in the last two decades. 60 60% of eligible voters.

Last summer’s rallies brought together people of different political backgrounds from the anti-government coalition, but they quickly crumbled after protests faded amid COVID-19 blockades.

Gann compared the epidemic to an “information tsunami” that dominates the flow of news and quickly removes any other negative issues that could tarnish the image of the government.

“For the past six months, no issue could have been in the news for more than a few hours, or a day or two, until some of the COVID rumors were bypassed,” he said, adding that incumbent presidents have benefited.

Borisov managed to get through the ropes of NATO’s accession to Bulgaria և close economic ties with Russia և.

Bulgaria has also been severely criticized by its Western counterparts for its long-standing corruption problems, the rule of law, and its lack of media freedom. The Balkan country lags behind its European peers in both the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

Last October, the European Parliament adopted a declaration criticizing the country for failing to adhere to basic democratic principles.

Earlier this week, the US State Department said in a report that the Bulgarian government’s actions in the fight against human rights abuses were insufficient and that impunity was still a problem. It undermines the violent attitude of the police. arbitrary arrests; serious problems of judicial independence; Serious restrictions on free expression, including media censorship, violence, and threats against journalists. և Political pressure on the media.

Electoral officials may allow persons queuing at the end of the voting period to go to the polls. The results of the first exit poll will be announced immediately after the polls close. Preliminary results are expected around midnight on Sunday.

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