SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s new anti-establishment party There Is Such a People (ITN) is almost tied for support with the centre-right GERB, which has been in power for most of the past decade, ahead of a snap election on July 11, an opinion poll showed on Monday.
Founded by popular TV talk-show host and singer Slavi Trifonov, ITN has pledged to sweep away traditional political parties, which it blames for the Balkan country consistently ranking as the European Union’s poorest and most corrupt member state.
The poll by Sofia-based independent Market Links showed support for ITN rising to 18.8% from the 17.7% it won in an April general election.
That put ITN just 0.9% behind of GERB, whose popularity has fallen further since the United States imposed sanctions on three Bulgarians over alleged corruption last month.
GERB won April’s election with 26.2% of the vote, but it failed to form a government as other parties have shunned it amid popular anger at endemic graft.
Sunday’s snap poll is being held to break the deadlock, after ITN also failed to secure a parliamentary majority.
Interim Cabinet allegations of wire-tapping of politicians and activists during anti-graft protests last year and information about the spending of billions of taxpayer money without proper public procurement by the GERB government have also weighed on the party’s popularity.
“There are trends that give a little bit more weight for the scenario that ITN could come first, because we see some drop in the support for GERB in the past month,” Market Links analyst Dobromir Zhivkov said.
Support for two smaller protest parties that are potential ITN partners – Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up! Mafia Out! – rose to 12.5% and 5.4% respectively, the poll of 1,085 people conducted June 18-25 showed.
The Socialist party remained the third-most popular with 16.9%, while support for the ethnic-Turkish MRF party stood at 9.5%.
An alliance of nationalist parties that were junior coalition partners of GERB, did not reach the minimum threshold of support it would need to enter the next parliament, the poll showed.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Hugh Lawson)