Bulgaria’s ruling Gerb party won most of the votes in the May 26 election for the European Parliament, unexpectedly leading significantly ahead of its main rival, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), exit polls showed.
According to an exit poll from Alpha Research, Gerb won 32.7% of the vote, way ahead of the BSP, which gained just 23.2% of the votes. This outcome was not expected by local analysts as Gerb was badly hit by a major scandal, dubbed Apartmentgate, in the weeks prior to the vote.
However, Gerb’s victory came on very low turnout of 28.8%, according to Alpha Research.
Third was the ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) with 13.6%, followed by far-right VMRO (7%) and the reformist Democratic Bulgaria (5.9%).
Days before the vote, analysts forecast that Prime Minister Boyko Borrisov’s government would be punished for the Apartmentgate scandal, though in the last few days Borissov personally took over the election campaign and managed to recover some support.
The scandal revealed that top politicians and state officials were sold luxury apartments for a fraction of their value, which disgusted citizens of the EU’s poorest country, many of whom struggle to buy their own homes or service their mortgages.
Apartmentgate, and a related scandal over EU rural development funds allegedly used to build luxury villas, has already led to several resignations and investigations ahead of the European Parliament election, and seriously destabilised Gerb.
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