Snap Elections Fail to Calm Bulgaria’s Political Instability

The election has, therefore, failed to resolve the political deadlock that has gripped Bulgaria since April, and the country is heading into somewhat uncharted territory. As a result, in the coming weeks and months, a protracted political crisis will likely materialize, whose outcome is hard to predict. Another round of elections could well take place in autumn.

Status quo weakened, not destroyed

The key to understanding the political conundrum in Bulgaria over the past year is the widespread resentment against the status quo and a strong desire for political change. Last year, mass protests erupted in the summer in reaction to the blatant corruption of the country's political class and the arbitrary abuse of power by the public prosecutor's office.

The electoral and parliamentary challenge by the "protest parties", ITN, DB, and ISMV, is a continuation of this movement. But although their challenge has weakened the status quo, it has not defeated it. Borissov personally has become toxic, and GERB's decline is palpable, but they are far from the political collapse some had hoped for.

GERB's traditional nemesis, the Socialist Party, BSP, has sunk to an all-time low but even so it remains ahead of the anti-corruption Democratic Bulgaria. The ethnic-Turkish-focused Movement for Rights and Freedoms has in contrast held on to a stable share of the vote, but is also experiencing decline as it struggles with diminishing turnout in some of its core constituencies.

Finally, as in April, the various far-right parties that had propped up GERB and BSP-led governments in the past failed to cross the threshold and saw their collective vote share decrease, signaling, perhaps, a change in the "protest vote" on the part of their traditional...

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