Early elections fail to calm political instability in Bulgaria
The election has therefore failed to resolve the political stalemate Bulgaria has been in since April, and the country is heading into somewhat uncharted territory. As a result, in the weeks and months to come, a protracted political crisis is likely to materialize, the outcome of which is difficult to predict. Another round of elections could well take place in the fall.
Status quo weakened, not destroyed
The key to understanding the political conundrum in Bulgaria over the past year is widespread resentment against the status quo and a strong desire for political change. Last year, mass protests erupted this summer in reaction to the blatant corruption of the country’s political class and arbitrary abuse of power by the prosecution.
The electoral and parliamentary contestation of the “protest parties”, ITN, DB and ISMV, is a continuation of this movement. But while their challenge weakened the status quo, it did not overcome it. Borissov has personally turned toxic, and the decline of the GERB is palpable, but they are a far cry from the political collapse some had hoped for.
The traditional enemy of the GERB, the Socialist Party, BSP, has fallen to an all-time low, but it still remains ahead of democratic anti-corruption Bulgaria. The ethnically Turkish-based Movement for Rights and Freedoms, on the other hand, has maintained a stable share of the vote, but is also in decline as it grapples with declining turnout in some of its main constituencies.
Finally, as in April, the various far-right parties that had supported the governments led by the GERB and the BSP in the past did not cross the threshold and saw their share of the collective vote decrease, perhaps signaling a change in the “protest vote” on the part of their traditional electorate.
More importantly, the interim government appointed by President Rumen Radev after the failure to form a government following the April elections has gained real popularity in recent weeks, thanks to its own anti-corruption campaign, thus further undermining the status quo.