Voters head to polls to elect new parliament
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Bulgarians are casting their ballots in an election expected to see the centre-right opposition defeat the ruling Socialists but find it difficult to form a stable government, causing concern about a political impasse in a time of economic crisis.
Polling stations opened in Bulgaria on Sunday in a general election expected to see the centre-right opposition defeat the ruling Socialists but find it difficult to form a stable government.
Eve-of-ballot polls credited the upstart centre-right GERB party of maverick Sofia mayor Boyko Borisov with 28 to 34 percent support, followed by the Socialists of outgoing premier Sergey Stanishev with 19 to 23 percent.
No outright majority and a highly fragmented parliament, with as many as eight parties expected to pass the four-percent entry threshold, spell difficulties ahead of the formation of the next government.
With coalition talks likely to take up the entire summer -- and possibly even necessitate repeat elections in the autumn -- observers are concerned about a political impasse at a time when the economic crisis is expected to reach its peak in Bulgaria.
A total of 6.8 million Bulgarians are eligible to elect 240 parliamentary deputies for a four-year mandate. The expected turnout is about 60 percent.
Polling stations opened at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) and were due to close at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT), when polling institutes would also announce the first exit poll results.
The electoral commission is due to announce its first partial official results early Monday.
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