Former PM Boyko Borissov unlikely to forge ruling coalition after Bulgarian elections

Former prime minister Boyko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party has a narrow lead in Bulgaria's parliamentary election, partial official results showed on Monday, but it is unlikely to be able to forge a ruling coalition.

With 95% of ballots counted, GERB won 23.9% of the vote, narrowly beating the new anti-establishment party There Is Such a People (ITN) of popular TV talk show host and singer Slavi Trifonov, with 23.7%.

The narrow margin in Bulgaria's second election since April reflects the deep divisions in the European Union's poorest member state over the legacy of Borissov's decade-long rule.

Many have turned to ITN and two smaller anti-graft parties in hope of more resolute action against widespread corruption, blaming Borissov, 62, a former bodyguard and fireman, for turning a blind eye or even supporting powerful oligarchs.

But GERB continues to benefit from Borissov's efforts to build much needed new highways and bolster incomes while maintaining fiscal stability.

However, even if the final official result confirms GERB as the largest party, its chances of forging a ruling coalition are close to non-existent, political observers say.

"If GERB wins, it would only have a symbolic meaning. Borissov will try to form a government, but of course he would not succeed," said Parvan Simeonov, an analyst with pollster Gallup International.

The ITN party is better positioned at forming a government with the support of its likely partners, two small anti-graft groupings Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up! Mafia Out! However, it would need the backing of traditional parties such as the Socialists or the ethnic Turkish MRF party, to replace the current interim Cabinet.

"I believe there will be a government, but it very well might have a limited life. These results do not imply a broad mandate for stability," said Rumiana Dimitrova with Alpha Research pollster.

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