European Union's poorest country Bulgaria votes in tense election

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Sofia:  Bulgarians began voting Sunday in a tight and tense snap election marred by accusations of fraud and expected to result in political stalemate and fresh protests in the European Union's poorest member.

Former bodyguard and ex-premier Boyko Borisov's conservative GERB party is expected to win the most votes, even though the biggest demonstrations in 16 years forced his government to resign only three months ago.

But pre-vote opinion polls give GERB just 29-35 percent of the vote, well short of a majority and nowhere near enough for a repeat of Borisov's previous minority government when his party was just four seats short of a being able to govern alone.

The last-minute opinion polls showed the socialist BSP party snapping at GERB's heels on 25-32 percent, with some surveys putting them neck-and-neck and even suggesting the BSP might pull off a surprise, if slim, victory.

Either way, this will leave either party the tough task of fishing for coalition partners in a severely fragmented parliament that might include up to five other parties.

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