The center-right party Gerb of the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov came first in the parliamentary elections with about 25% of the votes, according to the partial exit polls published the evening after the closing of the polls, but in 2017 Gerb had almost 34% of the votes. The exit polls also suggest that anti-government protest parties have done better than expected. Support for the party GERB Borisov’s – in power almost continuously for nearly a decade – has been eroded by a series of scandals, with protests last year accusing the government of protecting the oligarchs.

President Rumen Radev, who supported the anti-government protests last year and was a vehement critic of Borisov, said he “voted against the destruction of the rule of law. These elections are a step towards the return to normalcy”, he added.

Exit polls suggest that a new populist group, “There’s a people like this,” led by the sharp-tongued talk show host and critic Borisov Slavi Trifonov, got about 17%, going head-to-head with the traditional main socialist opposition party for second place.

The party of the Turkish minority Movement for rights and freedoms, a traditional kingmaker, is behind them with around 11%. Two formations that specifically target the votes of those who joined last year’s demonstrations seem to have garnered around 15% of the votes. They are the right-wing coalition Democratic Bulgaria – whose leader Hristo Ivanov encouraged the protests – and the leftist coalition Stand up! Mafia out! left-wing coalition, close to Radev. At the bottom is the current governing coalition partner of the Gerb, the nationalist party Vmro, which seems to be able to overcome the 4% barrier and obtain seats in Parliament.

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