UPDATED: Bulgaria’s GERB party urges lawmakers to create a government after inconclusive vote

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SOFIA, April 5 (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s centre-right GERB party, which came first in an election last Sunday, urged the country’s political parties to put a new government in place “whatever the cost” following the fifth inconclusive poll in two years.

Bulgaria faces lengthy government-building talks or the prospect of another vote, prolonging political instability in the European Union member state that has been fuelled by distrust between the pro-Western reformist party PP, which came second, and GERB, the party of former prime minister Boyko Borissov.

The political impasse following an election last October, also won by GERB, has already prevented parties from agreeing a 2023 state budget and the current caretaker government has had to delay a January 2024 target for Bulgaria to adopt the EU’s euro currency.

Borissov said on Wednesday he would lead talks with all parties if given the nod as expected by President Rumen Radev to be the first to try to form a new government.

Election results after 100% of districts were counted show GERB won 26.5% of the vote, while PP, which has ruled out a coalition with GERB, and its ally Democratic Bulgaria (DB) together received 24.5%.

“Bulgarians said that they cannot do without GERB, but they also cannot do without PP and DB. Our personal feelings don’t matter at all,” Borissov told a news conference.

“The only thing that this parliament should produce is a regular government. Whatever the cost for the parties. Otherwise, new elections mean the same.”The nationalist Revival party, which is sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine war and opposes Bulgaria joining the euro, came third with 14.2% of the vote.

Both Borissov and Kiril Petkov, PP’s 42-year-old, Harvard-educated leader, want Bulgaria, a NATO member albeit with close historic and cultural ties to Russia, to maintain its pro-Ukraine stance in the war.

But PP accuses GERB of presiding over rampant corruption in the EU’s poorest member state during their decade-long rule that ended in April 2021, something that Borissov denies.

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