SOFIA (REUTER) - Bulgaria`s ruling Socialist party has agreed that elections can be held at the end of 1997, a year ahead of schedule, a party spokeswoman said on Wednesday. The opposition has held nine consecutive days of protests, fuelled by anger at economic hardship, to demand an early general election. The spokeswoman said party leaders had met on Tuesday night and agreed that parliament should elect an interim government of "professionals with experience and international authority". "The exact date of the election and changes to the election law would be decided through negotiations," she said. Parliament, ringed by riot police who have kept the building cordoned off since protesters attacked the legislature on Friday, held its first regular session after the Christmas and New Year holiday. The opposition is boycotting parliament until its demands for early elections are met, but around 100 deputies from the Socialist Party and the Bulgarian Business Bloc attended. Trade unions planned one-hour warning strikes across the country on Wednesday to back the opposition`s demands and protest at rising poverty.