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* Sofia government likely to quit within weeks
* Centre-right opposition GERB party set to win polls
* Bulgaria at centre of East-West tussle over gas
SOFIA, June 17 Bulgaria's political parties have
agreed to hold an early election sometime between Sept. 28 and
Oct. 12, President Rosen Plevneliev said on Tuesday.
The coalition of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski is
expected to resign within weeks, after the ruling Socialists did
poorly in the European Parliament elections and a junior
coalition partner withdrew support.
"The political parties agreed the need for a smooth
transition to political stability and the need for further
political consultations to set up early elections in the period
between Sept. 28 and Oct. 12," Plevneliev said in a statement
after consultations with parliamentary groups.
Analysts expect the centre-right opposition GERB party to
win, though it may struggle to cobble together a stable
The next government must walk a diplomatic tightrope over
the fate of the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline, whose
proposed construction has thrust Bulgaria into the middle of a
dispute between Moscow and the European Union.
The Socialists had backed the pipeline, angering Brussels
which said it violated EU rules.
In a sign the next government could be cooler towards the
project, GERB's leader said if he were to gain power he would
scrap a contract with Russian firm Stroytransgaz - whose owner
is on Western lists of sanctions targets - to build the
Bulgarian leg of the pipeline.
(Reporting by Matthias Williams and Tsvetelia Tsolova; Writing
by Radu Marinas; Editing by Christian Lowe and Alison Williams)