Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's party takes a beating amid corruption allegations.
Exit polls in Bulgaria's second general election in three months show voters angry at rampant corruption have punished the party of three-time premier Boyko Borisov, deserting it for a new anti-establishment group headed by singer-turned-politician Slavi Trifonov.
Latest polls projected that Trifonov's There is Such a People (ITN) party — founded just last year — was marginally ahead of Borisov's GERB.
But while both parties are estimated to win between 21 and 24 percent of the vote in an election marred by low turnout, that will leave each of them short of a working majority in a badly fragmented parliament.
READ MORE: Bulgarians vote amid corruption woes
And that raises the prospect of further elections in search of a stable government through coalitions and alliances with smaller parties.
"A spiral of elections could create a monster out of parliament — such parties and their unimaginable combinations that we will all be sorry about, but by then it will be too late," New Bulgarian University professor Antony Todorov told BGNES news agency.
Badly damaged after massive anti-corruption protests in the summer of 2020, GERB was unable to find parties willing to govern with it after failing to win a decisive majority in April.
Since then, Borisov — a 62-year-old former bodyguard with a black belt in karate — has suffered a series of further blows from revelations by the interim cabinet about bad governance and allegations of corruption under his watch.
On top of that came unprecedented US sanctions against Bulgarian oligarchs who, according to Borisov's critics, were favoured during his time running the European Union's poorest and most graft-ridden member.
If borne out, Sunday's exit polls mean GERB will have fallen even further than the 26 percent it achieved in April.
Two other parties that emerged from the corruption protests, right-wing Democratic Bulgaria and the left-leaning Stand Up! Mafia Out were on 13 and five percent, respectively, in the exit polls.
Trifonov's ITN has already said it won't work with either GERB, the opposition Socialists or the Turkish minority MRF, the traditional parties of government.
Instead, it hopes to rely on the support of Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up! Mafia Out.
The polls suggest the 240-seat legislature will "have around 110-115 lawmakers of the protest parties, which will make government formation very difficult", according to political analyst Daniel Smilov.
Pollsters estimated turnout had been between 34 and 38 percent, down from 50 percent in April.