Bulgaria's ousted center-right GERB extends lead before May vote

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 18, 2013 9:59 AM
Bulgaria's ousted center-right GERB extends lead before May vote

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's center-right GERB party, which resigned from power after protests in February, is extending its lead over rival parties before an election due in May, a poll showed on Thursday.

Support for Boiko Borisov's GERB grew to 22.5 percent in April, from 21.9 percent in March, while backing for the Socialists dropped to 16.9 percent from 17.4 in the previous month, according to an Alpha Research poll.

GERB has managed to remain popular despite the huge protests against low living standards as the demonstrators have failed to form a single political force and other mainstream parties have failed to convince voters they could do a better job, analysts said.

"Borisov has managed to win the support of right-of-center voters, who see him as the only force able to prevent a new cabinet of the Socialists," said Genoveva Petrova with Alpha Research.

The Socialists' call for a broad coalition, along with its leader's position that he will not head the next government even if they win, has hit their support.

But GERB is unlikely to win an outright majority, according to the poll of 1,030 people carried out between April 10 and 14.

Backing for the nationalist Attack party, which has been the main beneficiary of the political crisis in the European Union's poorest country, eased to 4.9 percent from 5.5 percent the previous month. Its popularity was below 2 percent before the protests.

The ethnic Turkish MRF party was unchanged at 4.8 percent while backing for the new pro-business party led by former European commissioner Meglena Kuneva declined to 2.9 percent, up from 3.9 percent in March.

With 60 percent of voters expected to cast ballots, these five parties are expected to enter the next parliament. Parties need to win at least 4 percent of the vote to gain seats in parliament.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Andrew Roche)