SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is returning to power after his center-right GERB party won most seats in parliamentary elections but fell short of a majority to govern alone.
With 99 percent of the votes counted from Sunday's election, the GERB party led with 32.7 percent and the Socialists came second with 15.4 percent, the Central Election Commission announced Monday.
GERB officials said Monday their party was ready to form a minority government and was seeking the support of other parties but not the Socialists.
Borisov said he was prepared to govern the country and left the door open for talks with possible coalition partners. He said the alternative was holding a new election that would cause political uncertainty and financial turmoil for the European Union's poorest nation.
Borisov, 55, headed a minority government between 2009, when his party took nearly 40 percent of the vote, until 2013, when he resigned amid sometimes violent protests against poverty, high utility bills and corruption.
The nation of 7.3 million is struggling with corruption and a widespread disillusionment with the governing elite. A weak economic recovery is now threatened by a Russian ban on European food imports and a major crisis in the country's fourth-largest bank.
Bulgaria belongs to NATO and the 28-nation European Union but many residents feel a strong kinship to Russia.
It has been building part of the South Stream pipeline that aims to transport gas from Russia through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and other European countries, bypassing Ukraine's pipelines. But for anti-monopoly reasons, the EU has pressured Bulgaria to withdraw from the South Stream pipeline project and the work has stalled.
Borisov has said previously he would continue building South Stream only if the EU approved. Many Bulgarians, however, are eager for the jobs they hope it can bring.