Europe

Bulgaria president calls meeting to set early poll

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria's president on Tuesday called a meeting of all political parties in parliament next week to set a date for early parliamentary elections, a move that should help end political instability in the European Union's poorest member country.

President Rosen Plevneliev announced he will convene the leaders of the main parties next Tuesday. He spoke just hours after Sergei Stanishev — the leader of the ruling Socialist party — called for a snap poll to be held as early as next month.

Stanishev said his party cannot bear responsibility for the government alone after the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the MRF party, last week called for a snap poll. Their coalition is one year into a four-year term and controls exactly half of the seats in the 240-member parliament — meaning it has to rely on the tacit support of a nationalist party to govern.

The coalition was already looking shaky after the Socialists placed a distant second to the main opposition GERB party in European parliamentary elections last month. The opposition party responded by increasing calls for the government to step down and pushing a series of no-confidence votes in parliament to step up the pressure.

The leader of MRF, a mainly ethnic Turkish party, called for a new parliamentary election in the wake of the Socialists' lackluster finish in the European poll, which underscored the depth of the Balkan country's months-long political crisis.

On Tuesday, the Socialists' Stanishev said elections in July were "a feasible and realistic option" amid the current political climate.

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