Bulgarians are heading to the polls to elect a new parliament and a new president amid a surge of coronavirus infections. Some 6.7 million eligible voters hope that after inconclusive general elections in April and July, the third attempt to elect 240 lawmakers will result in a government to lead the European Union’s poorest member out of health and economic crises.

Analysts predict a low turnout due to people’s concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, a sluggish vaccine uptake and political apathy after two inconclusive elections.

The Balkan country, which is the least vaccinated in the EU, with less than one-third of its adults fully vaccinated, reported 334 COVID-related deaths this week in a single day, the country’s highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic. A low turnout would favor the former ruling GERB party that despite a further erosion in support can still count on many loyal voters, and it is likeliest to finish first.

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