SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarians go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament, the European Union member state’s eighth free general election since the fall of communism in 1989.
The center-right GERB party, which resigned from office in February following protests over low living standards and corruption, is still favorite to win but it is unlikely to achieve a majority.
GEOGRAPHY: Bordered to the north by Romania, to the east by the Black Sea, to the south by Turkey and Greece, to the west by Serbia and Macedonia.
POPULATION: 7.3 million, according to the statistics office.
ETHNICITY: 84.8 percent ethnic Bulgarians, 8.8 percent ethnic Turks, 4.9 percent Roma. (2011 census)
RELIGION: Christian Orthodox (80 percent), Muslim (12 percent).
LANGUAGE: The official language is Bulgarian.
Former Prime Minister Boiko Borisov’s GERB has about 22-23 percent support and the Socialists are second with 17-19 percent. The nationalist Attack, ethnic Turkish MRF and pro-business Bulgaria for the Citizens could all beat the 4 percent threshold to enter parliament.
A total 8,148 candidates are vying for seats in the 240-member parliament. There are 11,676 polling stations including 227 abroad. Polls will open at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) and will close at 8 p.m. (1700 GMT).
Final results, including seat allocation, are expected to be announced by May 16. President Rosen Plevneliev then has 30 days to call the parliament, after which he will begin consultations and give the leading party a mandate to form a government.
Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky