Bulgarians are voting in a snap parliamentary election that sees the centre-right GERB Party’s power challenged by the Socialist BSP.
It’s the third vote in four years and one that seems likely to result in a fragile coalition.
Opinion polls suggest former Prime Minister Boiko Borisov’s conservatives are only narrowly ahead.
Nationalist party the United Patriots is pegged to be the deciding factor. In an effort to sway the ballot, on Friday it blocked the Bulgaria-Turkey border and threatened to stop Turkish Bulgarians from voting.
“If Bulgarians decide that we should govern, we will have the chance to talk a lot about Turkey in the coming days. Many things have to be done by Europe and by Turkey to maintain peace and security. This tone, these actions are disastrous for Bulgaria,” said a defiant Borisov.
Chief of the socialists, Kornelia Ninova, has vowed to improve ties with Russia, even if it poses problems for relations with Bulgaria’s European Union partners.
“I voted for change, security at the borders and in our homes, and for justice. Education for every child, access to healthcare for every person in need, it will be easier for small- and medium-sized businesses. There will be more employed people with higher incomes,” she told reporters.
The election was triggered by Socialist-backed candidate Rumen Radev’s win in November’s presidential vote.
Borisov resigned as prime minister in the wake of his victory.