1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Close race in Bulgaria's fifth election in two years

Published April 2, 2023last updated April 3, 2023

Preliminary results indicated a narrow race between Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's GERB party and ex-Prime Minister Kiril Petkov's PP. Inflation has remained the top concern this election.

Kiril Petkov walking with other members of his party
This time Kiril Petkov's We Continue the Change (PP) has formed an alliance with a small right-wing party called Democratic BulgariaImage: Visar Kryeziu/AP/picture alliance

Initial results released Monday suggested conservatives and liberals were neck-and-neck after Sunday's general election in Bulgaria, the fifth in two years. 

Bulgarians had to head to the polls again because no party managed to form the government in the last round of parliamentary elections, which was held six months ago.

Preliminary election results released on Monday showed center-right Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's GERB party and its allied Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) taking around 26.5% of the vote.

Ex-Prime Minister Kiril Petkov's liberal We Continue the Change (PP) and their allied Democratic Bulgaria (DB) took 24.9%. For the first time, Petkov's PP, a centrist party, formed a coalition with the small, pro-European DB for this election.

The official result of the elections is expected to be announced within four days.

Russia halts gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria

Continued political instability

Similar to previous elections, corruption and soaring inflation took center stage in Sunday's ballot.

Three years ago, massive anti-corruption protests broke out in Bulgaria but instead of bringing a positive change, the demonstrations have led to a series of elections.

Ending his leadership of 10 years, Borisov lost power in 2021 after allegations of graft. Since then, the country's political parties have failed to form stable coalitions which led to political turmoil and interim governments.

Bulgaria divided over Russia's war in Ukraine

Bulgaria is a member of the EU and NATO alliance but shares deep historical and cultural ties with Russia which impacted Bulgaria's political landscape.

Towards the end of 2022, the Bulgarian parliament approved the first military aid package for Ukraine, but President Rumen Radev announced that Bulgaria would not send arms to Kyiv without an interim cabinet in power.

Pro-Russian Radev has appointed interim cabinets between inconclusive elections and has criticized Petkov and his allies as "warmongers." In June 2022, one party left Petkov's ruling four-party coalition, criticizing the government's supply of weapons to Ukraine and accusing the government of excessive public spending.

Correction from April 3, 2023: A previous version of this article did not clearly state that the election results for ex-Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov's PP party included the figures from their alliance with the Democratic Bulgaria (DB) party. The article has been updated to reflect their alliance. Further context has also been added into the collapse of Petkov's four-party coalition in June 2022.

mf/sms (dpa, AFP, AP)