March 29 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria will hold an early general election on April 2, the country's fifth parliamentary vote in less than two years and the second one in under six months.
Candidates from 15 parties and seven coalitions are running for representation in the 240-seat unicameral National Assembly.
A party or coalition needs to win at least 4% of all valid votes to secure participation in the legislature.
Bulgaria's most recent parliament was dissolved on February 3 after the Bulgarian Socialist Party returned unfulfilled an exploratory mandate to put together a government. Before that, president Rumen Radev handed a mandate to form a government to We Continue the Chance (WCC) - the leader of the former four-party ruling coalition that was ousted by a vote of no confidence last summer - and to centre-right coalition GERB-UDF led by former prime minister Boyko Borissov.
Bulgaria is currently governed by a caretaker cabinet appointed by the president in August.
The most recent snap vote, in October, was narrowly won by GERB-UDF, but yielded a fragmented parliament of seven political forces with no clear working majority. The enduring political crisis left Bulgaria without a budget for 2023, as the caretaker government has been working according to the provisions of last year's budget extended by parliament in November.
According to domestic and foreign analysts, the continued political uncertainty in the country is jeopardising the passing of much-needed legislation to facilitate EU funds absorption under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, to accelerate judicial reform and to adopt a state budget for 2023-2024.
Members of parliament in Bulgaria are elected for a four-year term by proportional representation in 31 multi-seat constituencies. Voters have the option to note a preference for a certain candidate on the party list.
Bulgarian citizens 18 years and older, living in the country or abroad, are eligible to vote. Bulgarian nationals residing abroad will be able to vote at a total of 737 polling stations in 61 countries, according to data by the foreign ministry. Voters can use a voting machine or cast a paper ballot.
Campaigning for the election will close on March 31. No election campaigning is allowed on April 1. Polling stations in Bulgaria will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. local time on Sunday.