SOFIA, Bulgaria -- On July 5, Bulgarians voted in legislative elections that seated 240 members of Parliament for the next four years. Although the campaign generated little excitement in this country of 7.2 million inhabitants, the election's outcome could have a significant impact on an energy tug of war between Europe and Russia.
As was widely expected, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), led by Sofia's Mayor Boiko Borisov, defeated Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev's Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). GERB took 40 percent of the vote, while the BSP-led Coalition for Bulgaria came in second with 18 percent, followed by the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), with a 14.5 percent showing. The right-wing "Blue Coalition" and conservative "Order, Law and Justice" party, as well as the xenophobic National Union Attack, also passed the required 4 percent threshold.
Given the election results, the most realistic scenario now is a broad, right-wing coalition of three or four parties -- including GERB, the "Blue Coalition," and perhaps the "Order, Law and Justice" party. Any eventual government will surely exclude the National Union Attack, whose anti-Roma and anti-Turkish rhetoric has led to its isolation on the political scene.