Bulgaria's new ITN party neck-and-neck with GERB before July election

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Slavi Trifonov, TV host and singer and leader of "There is Such a People" party is seen in this handout picture in Sofia, Bulgaria, November 30, 2020. Picture taken November 30, 2020. 7/8 TV/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

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SOFIA, June 17 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's new anti-establishment party There Is Such a People (ITN) stood neck-and-neck with centre-right GERB, which has been in power for most of the past decade, ahead of a snap election on July 11, an opinion poll showed on Thursday.

Founded by TV talk-show host Slavi Trifonov, ITN says it is challenging a political elite that has seen Bulgaria top Transparency International's index of the European Union's most corrupt member states.

Thursday's poll by Sofia-based Gallup International showed support for the party rising to 21.2% from 17.7% it won in an April general election.

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That put ITN just 0.2% ahead of GERB, whose popularity has declined further since the United States imposed sanctions on two Bulgarian oligarchs and four former and current officials over alleged corruption earlier this month. read more

GERB, led by three-time prime minister Boyko Borissov, won April's election with 26.2% of the vote, but other parties refused to work with it amid popular anger at endemic graft.

With ITN and two smaller protest parties, Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up! Mafia Out! also failing to secure a majority of parliamentary seats, a new election is being held to break the deadlock.

"For the time being it is impossible to see which of the two leading parties will come first," said Parvan Simeonov, an analyst with Sofia-based Gallup International pollster.

"It is also unclear whether the protest parties would be able to master a majority."

Support for Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up! Mafia Out! also rose, to 12.1% and 5.8% respectively, the poll of 1,012 people conducted June 2-11 showed.

The Socialist party remained the third most popular with 15.4%, while support for the ethnic-Turkish MRF party stood at 11.9%.

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Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Catherine Evans

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