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Bulgarians vote in snap polls amid political crisis

Over 6.71M people eligible to vote; 13,000 polling stations within Bulgaria, 748 in foreign countries

Ihvan Radoykov | KARDZHALI, Bulgaria

Bulgaria went to the polls on Sunday, the second time in three months as political groups failed to form a government after the April 4 elections.

Voting began at 7 a.m. (04:00GMT) and closes at 8 p.m. (17:00GMT). If necessary, it could be extended by an hour.

There are more than 13,000 polling stations within Bulgaria, and 748 in foreign countries. Over 6.71 million people are eligible to vote.

As many as 5,081 candidates from 23 political parties and coalitions compete for 240 seats in the unicameral National Assembly. The members of parliament are elected for a four-year term.

Mustafa Karadayi, head of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, whose members are mostly Turks, cast his vote in the city of Kardzhali.

Speaking at the polling station, Karadayi said there is a democratic crisis in Bulgaria for many years, and the country’s politics now needs normalization.

The main contenders in the election are a coalition between GERB and right-wing Union of Democratic Forces – led by three-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, and populist formation There Is Such a People headed by singer-turned-politician Slavi Trifonov.

In May, to quell the political impasse, retired gen. Stefan Yanev was appointed as interim prime minister.

Joining the EU in 2007, Bulgaria has been regarded as the poorest country of the union, and is often warned by the bloc over widespread corruption, lack of transparency and professionalism of state institutions and inefficiency of the judiciary.

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