Bulgaria’s Parliament dissolved itself to allow for early elections on May 12 after weeks of protests against high energy bills and poverty turned violent and brought down Boyko Borissov’s government.
“Today this Parliament is being dissolved,” four months before the end of its four-year term, Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva told lawmakers. “We are shocked by the cry of the people. A lot of pain shook Bulgaria and it shouldn’t be wasted. It should be channeled into a free and democratic vote.”
Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member in terms of per-capita output, has endured five weeks of rallies against poverty and demands for a change in the political system. Anti-austerity protests have toppled prime ministers across Europe and forced out Borissov, whose government focused on budget cuts to ward off bailouts and turbulent bond markets, boosting unemployment to the highest in eight years.
Borissov’s Gerb party and the Bulgarian Socialist Party led by Sergei Stanishev are the main contenders in the coming elections. Gerb is tied with the Socialists at 22 percent, according to a Jan. 31-Feb. 7 survey of 1,004 people by the polling company Gallup BBSS. The ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms trailed with 7.3 percent support. The survey had an error margin of 2.5 percentage points.
“It’s unlikely that any party will win an outright majority in the elections,” said Kolyo Kolev, a sociologist and director of Mediana polling agency in Sofia. “Bulgaria will either be ruled by a coalition government, if they manage to forge a coalition, or go into another round of voting.”
Bulgaria will continue to fulfill its obligations to the EU and keep its currency board system that pegs the lev to the euro, interim Prime Minister Marin Raikov said yesterday after his caretaker administration was appointed March 12. His Cabinet will stick to the budget and look for reserves to increase benefits for the poor, he said.
Hiring plans among Bulgarian employers “improved considerably” for the second quarter as 19 percent of the 750 companies polled will hire more people, Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup said on its website. Bulgaria’s net employment outlook increased 16 percent from the first quarter, according to ManpowerGroup.
The economy may grow between 1 percent and 1.5 percent this year, interim Finance Minister Kalin Hristov said yesterday, matching the previous government’s forecast of 1.2 percent growth. Gross domestic product rose 0.8 percent in 2012, after expanding 1.8 percent in 2011, according to the statistics office. Unemployment was 11.9 percent in January.
The benchmark Sofix stock index fell 0.9 percent to 379 at 12:23 p.m. in Sofia, after plunging 4.4 percent Feb. 26, its biggest drop since Feb. 2, 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield on Eurobonds maturing in July 2017 rose one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 2.0472 percent.