Brouhaha in Bulgaria

Posted: 5th March 2013
Brouhaha in Bulgaria

Recently, former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov showed just how weak a strongman could be. He had been indestructible, and then, in one fell swoop, he was out of office. He was so sleek that his compatriots called him “Batman.”

But the Bat Signal faded away last week with Borisov’s resignation. He left office after weeks of protest. Demonstrations began in Varna in early February over high electricity bills. The protests proceeded to take on the government, clamored against corruption, and called out the overlording “mafia” that controls the state. Protests continued to build, leading to clashes in Sofia on February 19th. At least 14 people were injured.

And then Borisov resigned. Rather than repress, repress, repress, he left, left, left on February 20th. But the protests didn’t stop. On February 24th, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered around the country in a nationwide day of action. At least 10,000 protesters demonstrated in the capital, Sofia, against the lingering policies that haven’t gone away despite Borisov’s departure. One of the slogan’s employed in the protest was “End to illusions, civil action every day!”

Then on Bulgaria’s National Day on March 3rd the demonstrators used the day to stage a nationwide day of action. While the new Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Neofit, publicly stated that he would not join in the protests, his stance did not deter thousands not satisfied with Batman flying the coop. The demonstrators have now set March 9 as the date of a “national protest conference” to be held at the Arena Armeec sports hall in Sofia.

Borisov’s resignation and the continued protests led Bulgarian Presdent Rosen Plevneliev to set an early election date for May 12th. Given the stance of concerned parties, an attempt by President Plevneliev to piece together a functioning government on March 5th is likely to fail. The ensuing electoral contest is set to be a race between center-right party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), and the country’s Socialist Party. With both a touch below 25% popular support, a majority for either is unlikely, thereby making a coalition government the expectation.

Meanwhile, the brouhaha in Bulgaria continues, and we’ll closely follow political developments approaching the upcoming elections.