On Sunday, Bulgarians will go to the polling station for the second parliamentary election in three months.

After the vote on April 4 led to an unresolved parliament, an early vote was held and the GERB party under the power of the conservative former prime minister Boyko Borisov failed to get enough support to form a new cabinet.

In May of this year, Borisov, who has served as prime minister for three terms since 2009, had to step down and transfer power to the caretaker government.

Since then, several political scandals have shaken this country of 7 million people as the interim cabinet tried to expose what it said was the corruption of government officials associated with GERB.

Pre-election polls showed that GERB was almost tied with a party with such a person, which ranked second in the April poll, led by popular talk show host Slavi Trifonov.

The far-right parties that were partners of the GERB coalition in the previous government may not be able to pass the 4% threshold to enter parliament.

Analysts interviewed by Al Jazeera said that in the July 11 election, Borisov’s party may once again be unable to win enough votes to form a coalition, which will effectively end the former prime minister’s nearly 10 years in power.

Some people say that this may even mark the end of his political career.

“Trumpization of the Campaign”

Since coming to power on May 12, the Provisional Government has regularly released information on corruption, embezzlement of public funds and other illegal activities to the public, saying that it has been found in government ministries and state agencies.

The government has begun investigating transactions with state funds, reviewing infrastructure projects, investigating improper behavior in government hospitals, replacing police and customs officers across the country, and thoroughly documenting citizens’ reports on suspected corruption.

Business allegations against the former government were also made public, and a businessman claimed in front of a parliamentary committee that Borisov personally threatened him.

In another charge, Interior Minister Bojko Rashkov said that another businessman revealed to him that Borisov had hinted that he might be killed and fed his body to his family.

The former prime minister refused to accept these allegations, believing it was a political campaign against him, and predicted that he might be arrested soon.

“Don’t be afraid, I am the one in the crosshairs,” Borisov said at a gathering of young GERB members in May. “The current coup d’etat is not legal at all.”

He also expressed doubts about the mandatory use of voting machines in Sunday’s elections, accusing the opposition party of “tampering” the voting machines.

Anna Krasteva, a professor of political science at the University of New Bulgaria, said that Borisov’s campaign remarks indicate that his strategic moves have been exhausted.

“He only has tactical moves left. They are ridiculous. He is fighting for Trumpization for the campaign,” she told Al Jazeera. “This is definitely the beginning of the end of Borisov. In the eyes of the Bulgarian people, he represents corruption.”

Magnitsky Act Sanctions

However, Petar Cholakov, associate professor of sociology at the Institute of Social and Knowledge of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, said that it is too early to announce the end of Borisov and his party.

“The situation is very dynamic… If the so-called protesting parties are unable to form a government after the elections, this may benefit GERB,” he said, referring to the three parties that supported the protests against GERB in the summer of 2020 – Yes Such people, democratic Bulgaria, stand up! The mob came out! .

Despite the alleged corruption scandal, some of Borisov’s overseas allies still support him.

“I am concerned about what is happening in Bulgaria, Boyko, you still have a lot of work to do. The EPP supports you, and we firmly support you. Rely on us,” Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament ) Is expressed in June.

On July 3, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Borisov in Istanbul and praised his “true friend and brother” immigration policy.

Supporters wearing T-shirts with a photo of former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov waiting at the election rally in Karjali on July 5, 2021 [File: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP]

But the administration of US President Joe Biden seems to have sent a different signal.

Soon after the interim government took over in May, the hero Mustafa, the American ambassador, met with Prime Minister Stefan Yanev and several of his ministers, and made an unusual visit to the Internal Revenue Service.

Then, on June 2, the Biden administration announced sanctions against several Bulgarian politicians and business people under the Magnitsky Act, including the former member of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRL) Delian Pier Delyan Peevski (Delyan Peevski).

According to some people, Borisov has close ties with the sanctioned media tycoon.

Cholakov said that Peyevsky’s alleged purchase of Bulgarian passports and connections with Russian energy projects may be viewed by Washington as a threat to US interests.

But sanctions are also a manifestation of disapproval.

“The United States has signaled that it is not satisfied with this governance model [of GERB-MLR],” He says.

Third election

Both GERB and There is such a People voted around 20%.

Two other parties that can join the possible anti-GERB coalition-Democratic Bulgaria and stand up! Thugs out! – Approximately 12% and 5% respectively.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party is 15% and the MRL is 11%.

But according to political adviser Vesislava Tancheva, machine voting may bring some surprises, which will limit the purchase of votes and may deter some minority communities that do not read Bulgarian.

This may affect the results of the MRL, especially since the party is traditionally supported by a minority.

Some large corporate supporters of GERB may also withdraw their support, narrowing the so-called “controlled voting”, that is, large employers instruct employees to vote for specific parties that are beneficial to their interests.

However, these trends may not generate enough votes for the anti-GERB coalition.

“We are very likely to hold the third election this year. This is a possibility that all parties except GERB are discussing internally,” Tancheva said.

In her view, the third election may put pressure on GERB and cause another interim government to investigate its transactions and advance judicial reforms, which may speed up the prosecution of corruption cases.


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