Voters apathetic in Bulgaria’s early parliamentary election

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Voter apathy dominated Bulgaria’s early election on Sunday, raising the prospect of yet another fractured parliament that will struggle to form a viable governing coalition.

The Central Election Commission said voter turnout was nearly 30% by 5 p.m., almost 10% less than in previous elections.

Some 6.7 million people were eligible to cast ballots for 240 lawmakers in the parliament. At the end of the voting day, before any official results were announced, no party appeared ready to claim the victory.

Political analysts, however, were unanimous that there are no options for former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to return to office for a fourth term, regardless of whether his GERB party finishes first in the election, because most political groups have rejected the idea of cooperating with the ex-ruling party.

Bulgaria, which belongs to both the European Union and NATO, has been repeatedly criticized for not tackling corruption and for deficiencies in the rule of law and media freedom.

The anti-corruption campaign of Borissov’s opponents was boosted by the sanctions the U.S. Treasury imposed last month against several Bulgarian public officials and business leaders for corruption.

Bulgaria held the early election after a previous election in April produced a fragmented parliament that failed to form a viable coalition government.

Political analysts on Sunday predicted weeks of talks to form a viable coalition and did not exclude the possibility of another election.