Bulgaria's center right keeps lead before May vote

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 17, 2013 4:04 AM
Bulgaria's center right keeps lead before May vote

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's center-right GERB party, which was forced from power by nationwide protests in February, has retained its lead over the Socialists ahead of an election in May and a hung parliament is still the likely outcome, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Support for GERB stood at 22.8 percent in April, up from 19.7 percent in January, while backing for the Socialists rose to 19.9 percent from 18.6 in the previous month, according to the Gallup International poll.

Tens of thousands of people have protested in the European Union's poorest country against corruption, rising unemployment and high utility bills, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov's cabinet.

A party would need to win above 43 percent of the actual votes to hold a parliamentary majority, meaning the election on May 12 is likely to produce a hung parliament, according to the poll of 998 people carried out between April 4 and 9.

However, Gallup said that some 500,000 people in the 7.3-million Balkan country are still hesitating, making the outcome of the vote unpredictable. The polling agency sees a margin of error of 3.0 percent.

Backing for the far-right Attack party rose again to 5.7 percent. The nationalists were the biggest beneficiary from the protests against low living standards as support for the party jumped from 1.2 percent to 5.0 percent last month.

Support for the ethnic Turkish MRF party fell slightly to 4.9 percent in April from 5.2 percent a month earlier while backing for the new pro-business party, led former European commissioner Meglena Kuneva was 3.9 percent, up from 3.0 percent in March.

Parties need to win at least 4 percent of the vote to gain seats in parliament.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Alison Williams)