Bulgaria's center right on track for election win: poll

SOFIA Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:39am EDT

Bulgaria's former Prime Minister and head of centre-right GERB party Boiko Borisov poses for a picture during an interview with Reuters in Sofia April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Pierre Marsaut

Bulgaria's former Prime Minister and head of centre-right GERB party Boiko Borisov poses for a picture during an interview with Reuters in Sofia April 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Pierre Marsaut

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SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's center-right GERB party is on course for election victory on May 12 despite resigning from the government after mass protests against low living standards in February, a poll showed on Sunday.

The state-funded NPOC survey put ex-premier Boiko Borisov's GERB at 23.6 percent and the Socialists at 17.7 percent. On this basis, however, a hung parliament looked likely since a party needs over 43 percent of votes for a majority.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the European Union's poorest country in anger over corruption, rising unemployment and high utility bills, prompting the resignation of Borisov's government.

Analysts say the unrest galvanized GERB supporters while protesters failed to form a single political group to challenge its position. The Socialists have failed to gain from the discontent since may protesters were unhappy with the whole political class, not just GERB.

Support for GERB was also largely unaffected by charges against four senior interior ministry officials for mishandling wiretapping equipment and data, which prosecutors said could have resulted in illegal surveillance of politicians and businessmen.

The nationwide survey, conducted between April 19 and 25, showed backing for the ethnic Turkish MRF party fell slightly to 6.0 percent in April from 6.5 percent a month earlier.

The biggest beneficiary from the nationwide protests in February was the far-right Attack party, whose support was 4.9 percent in April, up from 1.2 percent two months ago.

Attack's pledges of nationalizations, higher taxes for the rich and to revoke foreign concessions for gold and water have alarmed some investors.

(NPOC is state-owned, Gallup is an independent polling agency)

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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