- Title: BULGARIA: Bulgaria's right-wing opposition leader votes in European elections
- Date: 9th June 2009
- Summary: VOTER'S IDENTIFICATION BEING CHECKED VARIOUS OF PEOPLE VOTING LEADER OF "GERB" PARTY, BOIKO BORISOV, ARRIVING TO VOTE BORISOV CASTING HIS VOTE CAMERAMEN AND PHOTOGRAPHERS FILMING BORISOV CASTING HIS VOTE (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) LEADER OF "GERB" PARTY, BOIKO BORISOV, SAYING: "We will consider we have won when things start to change in Bulgaria." BORISOV GETTING INTO CAR CAR DRIVING AWAY (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) LOCAL RESIDENT, DORA GRIGOROVA, SAYING: "These elections are very important, because we have had enough and it is time for things to get better." (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) LOCAL RESIDENT, ZLATKA NIKOLOVA , SAYING: "The elections are important and I think Bulgaria will succeed." (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) STUDENT, VENERA MILUSHEVA, SAYING: "It is time for a change." (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) LOCAL RESIDENT, BORE PETKOV, SAYING: "We are still young people, but our future in Bulgaria is over. Now we hope our children will live in a better country, in some future time." PETKOV SITTING/CHILDREN PLAYING
- Embargoed: 24th June 2009 13:00
- Location: Bulgaria
- Country: Bulgaria
- Topics: European Union
- Reuters ID: LVAC2AT25X7U7CYQYW603Z9A4QM6
- Story Text: Bulgaria's right-wing GERB leader Boiko Borisov casts his vote in European elections. Many disillusioned Bulgarians have pinned their hopes on Borisov to fight the graft and corruption which has plagued the Balkan country since the fall of communism.
Bulgaria's ruling Socialists are likely to suffer a defeat in European elections because of public anger over its failure to tame chronic corruption and organised crime as well as act to protect the economy from the global economic crisis.
Opinion polls show the right-wing opposition GERB, led by Sofia's straight-talking Mayor Boiko Borisov, winning five to six of the total 17 seats.
Little over two years after joining the EU, Bulgaria's reputation has hit a low, marred by its Socialist-led government's failure to tame rampant graft and organised crime.
Investing in the Balkan country without paying bribes and encountering the mafia is almost impossible, some investors say. Polls show corruption has exceeded the economic crisis as people's biggest problem. Last year, Brussels punished Bulgaria by freezing millions in EU pre-accession aid, and anti-graft watchdog Transparency International ranked the country as the most corrupt EU nation.
About 80 percent of the 7.6 million population want the government to go and GERB is increasing its lead before the July 5 parliamentary election, opinion polls show.
Borisov voted in Bankya, an outer suburb of Sofia, on Sunday (June 7).
"We will consider we have won when things start to change in Bulgaria," he said after casting his ballot.
While voter turnout in Europe is expected to be below 50 percent, those who turned up to vote in Bankya said Bulgarians should have their say in the elections.
"These elections are very important, because we have had enough and it is time for things to get better," said Dora Grigorova.
"The elections are important and I think Bulgaria will succeed," Zlatka Nikolova added.
Bore Petkov said he was voting for the future of his children.
"We are still young people, but our future in Bulgaria is over. Now we hope our children will live in a better country, in some future time," he said.
Despite numerous pledges, Bulgaria has failed to convict a single senior official of corruption and has sent to jail only one crime boss since communism collapsed in 1989.
Observers and diplomats say those in power so far have lacked the political will to sever links between politicians, judges and crime bosses that lie in the root of the problem.
After two decades of post-communist stagnation and patchy reforms, many disillusioned Bulgarians have pinned their hopes on Borisov, a 49-year-old bodyguard-turned-politician.
He created GERB over two years ago to contest what he called a corrupt and failed political elite.
Diplomats say he has won Bulgarians over with his down-to-earth language and determination, and has the chance to gain back the EU's trust, but has yet to prove he can deliver on his pledges.
Borisov said GERB planned to reform the ineffective, graft-prone judiciary and ensure punishment for everyone who had breached the law, regardless of their status and background.
The European vote is expected to be a litmus test for the Balkan country's parliamentary election on July 5, in which polls suggest the Socialists will be ousted.
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