- The Bulgarian Socialist Party, successor to the former Bulgarian Communist Party, takes on main opposition role
Bulgarian centre-right political party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), which is under former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's leadership, completed the Bulgaria's general election ahead of others, according to first exit polls.
In the voting which started at 07.00 hours (0400 GMT) and ended at 20.00 hours (1700 GMT), 21 independent, 13 political parties and nine coalitions competed for the 240 seats in the national assembly amid a period of political instability.
According to research company Gallup International, GERB received 33 percent of the votes.
Displaying a moderate nationalism, GERB keeps its relations with the European union in the forefront and also supports balanced relations with neighbouring Turkey.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party, successor of the former Bulgarian Communist Party, conducts nationalist politics with its pro-Russian policies, and is expected to take on the main opposition role with 28 percent of the vote.
- MRF loses its Turkish voters
Centrist political party, Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), whose founding members were predominantly Turks, received only 8 percent of the vote.
MRF, which was the third largest political power in the last parliament, received lower votes in this election after letting former deputies of racist ATAKA Party join the party.
Opinion polls indicate the likelihood of a coalition government in the EU's poorest country.
The latest opinion polls conducted by Afis show former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova neck-and-neck.
The right-wing populist alliance, the United Patriots, which has tried to attract voters with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, is predicted to remain below 10 percent of the vote.
- Tensions with Turkey
Bulgarian expats living in Turkey have started to cast their votes at polling stations in Turkey's Izmit, Gebze and Edirne.
The election takes place amid tensions between Ankara and Sofia over claims that Turkey is interfering in the election by favoring the Democrats for Responsibility, Freedom and Tolerance (DOST) coalition.
DOST, which means "close friend" in Turkish, generally has ethnic Turks or Muslims among its members.
On Friday, right-wing activists staged a demonstration in Bulgaria's Kapitan Andreevo area to block expat Bulgarian voters living in Turkey from taking part in the voting process.
The demonstrators, many brandishing anti-Turkey banners and Bulgarian flags, blocked traffic at the border, forcing passengers from Turkey to disembark from buses and walk across the frontier on foot.
Bulgaria has also issued a new law limiting the number of ballot boxes for Bulgarians living in Turkey to 35 -- for an estimated 500,000 expat residents -- a move the Turkish Foreign Ministry said was intended to hinder ethnic Turkish Bulgarians from voting.
A former Ottoman territory, Bulgaria has a large Turkish minority of about 10 percent, according to official census figures.