Disillusioned Bulgarians head to polls for fifth time in two years

Shepherd Zhivko Memov walks behind sheep at Mariana Kehayova's farm in the Rhodope mountains, near Devin, Bulgaria, March 26, 2023. [Stoyan Nenov/Reuters]

In the rugged Rhodope mountains in southern Bulgaria, many voters have little hope that Sunday's parliamentary election, the nation's fifth in two years, will produce a stable government able to tackle corruption, inflation and poverty.

The latest ballot was announced in January, following three attempts by various political groupings to put together a functioning coalition after an inconclusive vote in October.

The country has been in a political gridlock since mass protests in 2020 and has mostly been governed by caretaker governments appointed by President Rumen Radev.

The political turmoil has already led to delays in the country's ambitions to join the euro zone in 2024 and could further hamper its efforts to efficiently use Covid-19 pandemic recovery funds and tackle rising living costs.

"Politicians in parliament apparently cannot understand each...

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