SOFIA Bulgaria's center-right main opposition GERB party has a five-point lead over the ruling Socialists (BSP), according to the first opinion poll in the European Union's poorest member state since the May European parliament elections.
Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's minority governing bloc agreed to resign after its biggest party, the Socialists, gained less than 20 percent in the European vote. He said last week he would probably step down between July 23 and 25, in a line with an inter-party deal to hold a snap election on Oct. 5.
According to the results of the Gallup International poll published on Thursday, support for GERB was at 22.3 percent, while backing for the Socialists stood at 17.2 percent.
Gallup polled 1,010 Bulgarians from June 27 to July 3.
The ethnic Turkish MRF party registered backing from 7.2 percent of Bulgarians while the new Bulgaria Without Censorship coalition was at 6.8 percent.
Instability could drag on after the next election given that GERB leader Boiko Borisov has said he will not enter any coalition government if he failed to win an outright majority.
That means he would either have to rely on outside support to govern, or at worst the formerly communist, Balkan country would have to hold another vote - its third in just two years.
Oresharski's troubles were compounded when Bulgarians flocked to two local banks last month to withdraw their savings, spooked by media reports, emails and text messages questioning the health of the lenders.
The government blamed an orchestrated attack designed to destabilize the banking system and has made a number of arrests.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Mark Heinrich)