Over the past four days, Bulgaria has been shaken by a wave of anti-government protests, and tens of thousands of people “oppose the mafia governance model” traversed the capital Sofia.
Demonstrators demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, and other cities in the country also held smaller protests.
On Tuesday, a politician of Hristo Ivanov, a Bulgarian from the center-right Democratic Party, tried to reach a public beach on the Black Sea coast, but was then stopped by National Protection Service (NSO) personnel to guard nearby The mansion caused public anger. Representative of Ahmed Dogan, the former leader of the Human Rights and Freedom Movement (DPS) party.
Ivanov accused Borisov’s government of authorizing Dogan to embezzle public property and use taxpayer money to provide him with security, although he did not hold a formal government position, but many The root (Dogan) encroached on public property.
On Saturday, after announcing that the NSO would stop providing security details for Dogan, Borisov of the German GERB ruling party rejected the call to resign.
He said in a Facebook live broadcast from his home: “We will continue to be in power because the opposition will destroy the country.”
Earlier in the day, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, a member of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), also called on Borisov and Attorney General Ivan Geshev to resign. On Thursday, the prosecutor entered the presidential palace and arrested two members of the presidential palace.
The raid is here Radev Criticizing the government, and saying that the National Bureau of Statistics should not guard Dugan.
A series of major political scandals have occurred in recent months, and public anger over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has increased, which has also exacerbated the political crisis.
During the two-month confinement period, the number of cases per day in Bulgaria was greatly reduced, and the sudden opening of companies and the permission to hold public meetings led to a surge in cases again.
Analysts say that the roots of the current crisis are deep and related to the weak rule of law in the country and the problematic relationship between oligarchy politics.
Oligarchy and “national occupation”
Dogan is a controversial figure in Bulgarian politics. He was a special agent of the Communist Secret Service and a Turkish descent. He founded DPS in 1990. Its purpose was to provide political representation to the Bulgarian Turkish minority, who was brutally injured by the collapsed communist regime.
However, in the next 20 years, he began to hold important positions in Bulgarian politics. He famously said in 2009: “Power is in my hands. I am a tool of power and distribute part of the financing in the state.”
Dogan has not appeared in public for several years, and refused to conduct camera interviews at recent events.
Bulgarian media tycoon Delyan Peevski is one of Dogan’s closest allies and a member of DPS. He has also been using NSO security.
Ivanov of the Bulgarian Democratic Party accused Dogan and Peevski of controlling the Attorney General’s Office and the Ministry of the Interior, and claimed that Borisov was “feared” and “dependent” on them.
“[Dogan and Peevski are] Part of the ruling cartel dates back to the mid-2000s. Other stakeholders include the Attorney General, whoever is in power. Dimitar Bechev, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Al Jazeera.
According to him, “Bulgaria is reality.
“[In Bulgaria, there is] The weakness of the rule of law, and the most powerful political force GERB is not a change actor, but a fact of part [and the] The EU is no longer an external check…but a source of rent. “
Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007. The European Union has repeatedly suspended financial assistance to various economic programs in small Balkan countries because of its concerns about corruption and its failure to solve organized crime. DPS is accused of controlling public works funds in non-urban areas, part of which comes from the European Union.
Jana Tsoneva, a sociologist based in Sofia, believes that the main problem with Bulgarian politics is that DPS and all other major political parties rely on strong business interests.
“[Big] She said: “Business is the source of corruption. When we talk about corrupt politicians, we have to talk about who is corrupting them. We need fixed institutions, but as long as this happens, it cannot happen. [big] Businessmen continue to buy politicians and use these institutions in battles in the internal market. “
What happened next?
The political crisis in Bulgaria has exacerbated the growing public dissatisfaction caused by the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession. According to the European Commission, Bulgaria’s economy is expected to shrink by 7.1%. At the same time, the unemployment rate soared to 9%.
Some believe that this crisis may end Borisov’s long-term political career and harm the chances of the German Federal Reserve Bank in the next election.
Before the outbreak of the protests, in the opinion poll released by Sova 5 in early July, only 28.5% of the respondents said they trusted Prime Minister Borisov; 31.9% said they trusted President Raduf.
According to public opinion polls, if the general election is to be held in advance, the DPP of Borisov, who has led the three Bulgarian governments since 2009, will receive 21.3% of the votes, and 12% of the DPP of Radev. Party 5% of the vote, democratic Bulgaria 2.4%.
Bechev and Tsoneva said the protests are unlikely to reduce GERB support significantly, But they may lead to early elections.
Bechev said: “Earlier polls may help Borisov to maximize the vote for the German Broadcasting Corporation, but will transfer power to the appointment of the caretaker government of Radev.” He said: “I think, After the next general election, the German radio station will remain the largest political party, but the question is who will merge with it.”
Borisov’s current alliance partner, the far-right United Patriot League, may not clear the 4% threshold in the next general election. Other options may include “There is such a person”, which is a new political party established by the popular talk show host Slavi Trifonov, whose support rate is currently 5%, or DPS. According to Bechev, considering the negative public opinion of Dogan and Pevsky, an alliance with Borisov may be too risky for Borisov.
For Tsoneva, as long as GERB is in power, it is impossible to carry out the reforms needed to end oligopolistic intervention in government affairs.
However, she believes that pro-EU and reformed and democratic Bulgaria have the opportunity to use the current political crisis to play a greater role in the political arena. Ivanov’s party is seen as catering to well-educated urban elites, and so far it has been difficult to achieve significant results in parliamentary elections.
“[Democratic Bulgaria] Can go beyond its unpopular legalist discourse on private ownership and guarantees against corruption, and expand to a broader concept of justice, involving those who suffer from poverty, exploitation, marginalization and racism, and lack of adequate medical care most” Tennieva.
Follow Mariya Petkova on Twitter: @mkpetkova