Bulgaria election: Boyjo Borisov's GERB 'leading' race

Bulgarians vote in elections Sunday with the Socialists, seen as closer to Russian Federation, aiming to prevent another comeback by two-times centre-right premier Boyko Borisov.

Two smaller parties - Yes, Bulgaria and New Republic - who campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption and judicial reform, failed to reach the four percent barrier, according to the exit poll.

She added that "Borisov and his political party, GERB, will have to form a coalition, and probably they will do it with the United Patriots and Volya".

Bulgarian nationalists kept up their protests at the Turkish border Saturday against Bulgarian citizens living permanently in Turkey who are coming in to vote in Bulgaria's election.

But in the ex-communist nation's third election in four years, many voters are turning away from the main parties towards groups on the fringes, or are not bothering to vote.

Bulgaria's Socialist party will look at options for the country to buy back the Bulgarian assets of Czech power utility CEZ if it wins the national election on Sunday, its leader Kornelia Ninova said on Thursday.

The Kremlin's most loyal satellite during the Cold War era, Bulgaria remains a popular holiday destination for Russians lured by its Black Sea beaches and cheap prices, and it is also nearly entirely dependent on Russian energy supplies.

A former firefighter and bodyguard, 57-year-old Borisov has been a towering figure in Bulgarian politics in recent years.

But Borisov also said during the campaign that he wanted more "pragmatic" ties with Russian Federation, while Ninova, 48, insisted that she remained committed to the EU.

A caretaker administration took over after parliament was dissolved in January and will remain in place until a new government is formed.

Ninova said she voted on Sunday "for security at our borders and inside the country, for justice, and lastly not to give an opportunity to another country, no matter if it comes from East, West or South, to interfere in our politics". While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized what he described as "pressure" on ethnic Turks in Bulgaria ahead of the election, his Bulgarian counterpart, Rumen Radev, has said his country would not accept democracy lessons from Turkey. More than 300,000 have settled permanently in neighboring Turkey, but still hold a Bulgarian passport and are eligible to vote in Bulgaria.

The protesters claim Turkish officials are forcing expatriate voters to support DOST, a pro-Ankara party running for the first time.

  • Zachary Reyes