SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria’s center-right party and its main challenger, the Socialists, finished first and second in Sunday’s parliamentary election, with neither winning a majority needed to form a government, two exit polls indicated.
If that outcome is confirmed, it could lead to more political and economic instability in the financially strapped Balkan nation.
Some 6.9 million eligible voters were choosing among candidates from 36 parties. But voter apathy was widespread, and allegations of vote fraud and an illegal wiretapping scandal marred the campaign.
The Alpha Research exit poll said the GERB party of former prime minister Boiko Borisov’s won 30.1 percent of the votes, with the Socialists second at 26.1 percent. A separate exit poll by Sova Harris said Borisov’s party won 31.2 percent of the vote, with the Socialists receiving 25.7 percent.
Official results are expected on Monday.
With up to five other parties expected to enter the 240-seat Parliament, formation of a stable government may prove difficult. ‘‘I expect that the country will soon head to another election,’’ Anton Todorov, a political analyst, said before the vote.
Bulgaria has been led by a caretaker government since February.