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Elections loom as Bulgarian lawmakers allow anti-elite party to withdraw proposed govt

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Bulgarian lawmakers voted on Thursday to allow the anti-establishment There Is Such a People (ITN) party to withdraw its proposed government, bringing the European Union’s poorest country closer to its third elections this year.

The ITN party of TV talk-show host and folk-pop singer Slavi Trifonov narrowly won the July 11 parliamentary elections, ending more than a decade of dominance of centre-right premier Boyko Borissov.

But ITN, whose election results were bolstered by public anger at widespread corruption, gave up plans on Tuesday to lead a minority cabinet after a fallout with its potential allies, two small anti-graft parties.

In an unprecedented vote, parliament acknowledged that ITN had failed to form a government after its designated prime minister, Plamen Nikolov, withdrew his nomination. ITN lawmakers left the plenary hall before the vote, saying it was not needed.

The decision allows President Rumen Radev to ask the second largest party, Borissov’s GERB, to try to form a government, but the party, which has no allies in the chamber, has already said it will not propose a cabinet.

Under the constitution, a third attempt to form a government should be made by a political party chosen by Radev, but analysts say its chances of success are very small.

Recent opinion polls show that a third election this year is likely again to produce a fractured parliament that will struggle to form a permanent government.

The prolonged political instability will hamper Bulgaria’s ability to efficiently tap the EU’s hefty coronavirus recovery funds and shield its fledgling economy from an expected surge in coronavirus infections.