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SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party has extended its lead over major rivals, the Socialists (BSP), ahead of snap elections in October, a new Gallup International poll showed on Thursday.

Support for GERB grew to 23.4 percent of the votes, with 15.9 percent for BSP, whose government quit last month following their poor performance at the European Parliament vote in May.

Bulgaria's president appointed an interim government and set early polls for October 5 to put an end to the political instability that has rocked the Balkan country in the past two years and help deal with the worst banking crisis since the 1990s.

According to the results of the poll, support for GERB rose 1.1 percent from a month earlier, while the popularity of the Socialists dropped 1.3 percent, the survey of 1,008 Bulgarians in the first week of August showed.

The ethnic Turkish MRF party, which was a junior coalition partner in the Socialist administration, increased its support to 7.8 percent, while the populist Bulgaria Without Censorship coalition fell to 4.9 percent.

The next parliament is expected to consist of five parties and instability could drag on after the next election given that GERB leader Boiko Borisov has said he will not join a coalition if he fails to win an outright majority.

That means he would either have to run a minority government, or at worst the formerly communist, Balkan country would have to hold another vote - its third in just two years.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Reuters