* Centre-right GERB demands election within six weeks
* Says campaigning on day before the vote hit support
* Political vacuum further undermines EU's poorest country
By Tsvetelia Tsolova
SOFIA, May 16 Bulgaria's GERB party is demanding
a rerun of Sunday's election, blaming illegal campaigning for
its failure to win more support and prolonging a political
vacuum that would further undermine the European Union's poorest
Centre-right GERB, which won 97 of 240 parliamentary seats
and cannot form a majority coalition, was swept from office in
February by street protests over living standards, corruption
and organised crime.
Leader Boiko Borisov said on Thursday he will propose a
minority government, even though it will not be voted in by
parliament, if the constitutional court has not ruled on GERB's
complaint before the new assembly is convened.
"In the configuration in which the four parties are at the
moment, a government cannot be formed," Borisov said. "The new
vote can be held in the next month, month and a half. Nothing
worse can happen, from where we are now."
Bulgaria urgently needs a new government to negotiate EU
funds for the next seven years, draft the 2014 budget and
address popular anger.
A constitutional court ruling could take up to two months,
legal experts said, during which time parliament could be
convened and a new government voted in. The electoral commission
and chief prosecutor said they saw no violations of the law.
"I believe there will be no legal consequences (of GERB's
demand), but the political ones indicate a drive towards chaos,
for instability in the country," Sergei Stanishev, leader of
the Socialists, GERB's main rivals.
"They want to remain in power at all costs in order to cover
the traces of their outrageous actions," he said.
President Rosen Plevneliev has appealed to political parties
to hammer out a coalition, saying Bulgaria did not need a new
election. He hopes to convene parliament by the end of May.
Smaller parties refuse to work with GERB but are struggling
to cement their own alliances.
GERB says support was affected by an announcement from state
prosecutors on Saturday, when campaigning is banned before
voting, that illegal ballots were found at a printing shop owned
by one of its councillors.
Two parties - the Socialists and ethnic Turkish MRF - held
media conferences afterwards. Borisov has denied any wrongdoing
or involvement with the ballots.
"Today or tomorrow GERB will appeal to the constitutional
court and seek the cancellation of the election," said Borisov,
a former bodyguard to dictator Todor Zhivkov. "Our reason is the
gross violation of the law in the day before the vote."
Borisov said, in an interview with Trud newspaper on
Wednesday, that the prosecutors' announcement knocked 5-6
percent off GERB's results.
Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said his office had not
accused any political party of the illegal ballot printing and
said interim government officials had failed to exercise
An alliance of Socialists and the MRF - which said GERB's
comments were an admission it had lost the election - are one
seat short of a majority and may seek support from the
nationalist Attack, or individual MPs from GERB and Attack.
But they will only have the chance to do so once GERB has
tried and failed to form an administration.