Early parliamentary elections underway in Bulgaria

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SOFIA, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Bulgarians went to polls on Sunday to vote in the country's early parliamentary elections, Bulgaria's fifth parliamentary elections in two years.

Nearly 6.6 million voters are eligible to elect 240 lawmakers from 14 political parties and seven coalitions, according to official data.

More than 11,800 polling stations opened across the country at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and are due to close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), the Central Election Commission of Bulgaria said.

Meanwhile, 737 ballot boxes are available for Bulgarians living abroad to cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said.

According to the country's legislation, parties and coalitions need to gain at least 4 percent of the votes to enter the National Assembly, the country's parliament.

Exit polls will be announced immediately after stations closed in Bulgaria, and official results are expected on Thursday.

The previous elections were held on Oct. 2 last year but the legislature was dissolved after the parliamentary parties failed to form a ruling majority.

The National Assembly is Bulgaria's legislative body. It also elects the government by a simple majority, and has a four-year term -- except in certain circumstances such as when it is unable to elect a government. Enditem

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