* Socialists want power price cuts, support pension hike
* Protests continue even though government resigned
* President to name interim government next week
By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, Feb 26 Bulgaria's leftist opposition
called on Tuesday for the quick formation of a caretaker
government to raise pensions and cut power bills to help the
Balkan country's poorest people.
The centre-right government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov
resigned last week amid nationwide protests against high power
bills in the European Union's poorest member.
But the resignation failed to quell public discontent with
low wages and pensions and a discredited political elite, and
tens of thousands marched though Bulgarian cities on Sunday,
with smaller protests continuing this week.
"We need a government that solves people's problems,"
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Sergei Stanishev told a
news conference. "It should take urgent measures to stabilise
the financial situation in the country."
Borisov's departure has failed to calm voters fed up with
low living standards and rampant graft, and his GERB party is
now running neck-and-neck with the BSP. With both at around 22
to 23 percent support, neither is expected to win a majority in
a probable early election.
The president - a political ally of Borisov, though he has
to maintain a neutral position - is expected to name an interim
technocrat administration next week with the aim of maintaining
fiscal stability and a currency peg to the euro.
The BSP, which was voted out of office in 2009 as the
economy crashed and budget gap ballooned, wants power price cuts
and three months' leeway for unpaid bills, Stanishev said.
The party also called for funds to help poorer people pay
their energy bills, due to be paid later this year, to be
disbursed immediately. It supported a planned increase in
pensions by an average of 9.3 percent from April, said
Stanishev, who was prime minister from 2005-2009.
GERB also risked a diplomatic row with the Czech Republic
and EU by threatening to withdraw the licence of CEZ,
one of three electricity producers along with another Czech
company, Energo-Pro, and Austria's EVN.
Protesters set an EVN office on fire on Monday night in the
second largest city of Plovdiv.
The rightist GERB and BSP have both declined to try to form
a government in this parliament, meaning an election will almost
certainly be brought forward from the currently planned July.
Borisov - a former bodyguard who was seeking to become the
first premier since the 1989 fall of communism to win a second
term - managed to maintain fiscal stability since taking power
in 2009 but belt-tightening has held back growth and driven up
The Balkan state's economy is only edging back from a deep
recession and is expected to grow 1.9 percent in 2013, hit by
poor demand for exports in the euro zone.
(Editing by Sam Cage and Alison Williams)