Preliminary results in Bulgaria's local elections show the country's former communist party have taken a clear victory.
Socialists achieved clear victory
With half the votes counted, the Socialist Party (PSB) had taken 33%, against only 10% for the centre-right governing party of Simeon Saxe-Coburg.
The conservative United Democratic Forces (UFD) was in second place with around 21% of votes.
The poor showing for the Saxe-Coburg National Simeon II Movement (MNS II) contrasts with a 43% showing in parliamentary elections only two years ago.
Correspondents say Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg - the former child king of Bulgaria - hoped to repeat his success at a local level what he achieved nationally - breaking the mould of two party politics.
In the capital Sofia, current mayor Stefan Sofiyanski, a former conservative who has formed his own centre-right party, and a socialist candidate, ended neck and neck and will take part in a run-off next Sunday.
The poll was marked by a low turnout of under 40%.
It is widely being seen as an indication of how Bulgarians will vote in the general election in 2005, ahead of the country's anticipated entry into the EU in 2007.
Saxe-Coburg's reforms are unpopular
Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg, who returned from exile after five decades, swept to power with promises to improve the living standards of Bulgarians and fight corruption.
However, recent surveys show that almost three quarters of the population feel his government has failed.
There is also widespread nostalgia for the days of communism, as crime rates rise and living standards remain low.
Mounting opposition to Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg's austerity measures have prompted talks of early elections.