By Tsvetelia Tsolova

SOFIA (Reuters) -No clear winner emerged in Bulgaria’s parliamentary election, the third held this year, exit polls showed on Sunday, with the centre-right GERB party of former premier Boyko Borissov ahead in three surveys and a new centrist group leading in another.

Alpha Research’s exit poll showed GERB narrowly leading the election with 24.8%, while Gallup International saw the new faction, We Continue The Change, coming first with 25.7%.

The other exit polls showed GERB leading with about 23.5%-24.7% of the vote.

The close poll results underscore deep political divisions after a decade of Borissov’s rule. They coincide with a rise in coronavirus cases, high energy costs and anger at widespread corruption in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member.

In the presidential vote also held on Sunday, incumbent Rumen Radev, a harsh critic of Borissov, was seen winning around 49% support in the first-round vote, two exit polls showed.

Even if official results confirm GERB as the largest party, with no obvious allies in parliament, its chances of forging a ruling coalition are slim, political observers say.

The new faction may be better-positioned to forge a ruling coalition with the support of likely partners in two small anti-graft groupings and the Socialists, thereby ending a prolonged political impasse in the Balkan country.

Inconclusive elections in April and July failed to produce a functioning government.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Nick Macfie and Barbara Lewis)