May 12 - Bulgarians go to the polls in an election forced by protests over poverty and corruption, with expectations of a close result that could leave the European Union's poorest country without a working government. Sarah Sheffer reports.
Many Sofia residents lining up to vote in Bulgaria's parliamentary elections have been uninspired by the party leaders' campaign. Elections were forced by protests over poverty and corruption in the European Union's poorest state and are expected to be a close call. The centre-right GERB party, which resigned after violent demonstrations in February, is running neck-and-neck with the Socialists. Some fear the results could leave the country without a working government. Unemployment is close to an eight-year high, the average monthly wage is 400 euros and economic growth expected at only 1 percent this year. The elections have been marred by controversy. Bulgarian prosecutors seized 350,000 fake ballot papers, sparking protests in the capital. They said the ballots were found at a printing house owned by the company of a local councillor from GERB who denied any wrongdoing. But opposition activists are crying foul. If no group can secure a majority, Bulgaria will hold a new election-- possibly in September.