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SOCIALISTS WIN MAJORITY IN BULGARIA

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Propelled by popular discontent over lingering instability and falling living standards, the Bulgarian Socialist Party of former communists has won a clear majority in national elections.

For the past three years, Bulgaria's parliament has been caught in a stalemate, with neither the socialists or anti-communists having enough seats to push through significant legislation.But in voting Sunday, the Socialists won 124 seats in the 240-seat parliament, election commission officials said Monday. The results were based on 92 percent of the votes. The final number of seats could be slightly different because of Bulgaria's complex seat-allocation procedures.

The Socialists' main rivals, the staunchly anti-communist Union of Democratic Forces, would get 68 seats.

The elections brought the fourth former Communist Party back to power in Eastern Europe, after Hungary, Poland and Lithuania. Both the Bulgarian Socialists and their opponents favor market-oriented reforms.

Zhan Videnov, the 35-year-old Socialist leader, said voters had punished the UDF for "its unproductive, confrontational policy, its lack of competence."

The Popular Union was a distant third with 6.5 percent, followed by the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms with 5.4 percent.