From summer 2020 to spring 2021, Bulgaria experienced a series of protests not only in its capital city Sofia, but also in cities abroad which have a major Bulgarian community, such as Brussels and London. The protests were directed against the bulgarian prime minister, Boyko Borissov, who has dominated the country’s politics for more than a decade.Citizens link his governance under the GERB party to the increase of political corruption. The recent protests were a vivid representation of how frustrated Bulgarians are with the presence of corruption and lack of transparency in public institutions. However, Borissov refused to resign, following the protests, by publicly declaring that they were staged and that there was no adequate alternative to his governance. When finally the 4-year term of Borissov’s cabinet ended, parliamentary elections were held in Bulgaria on April 4, 2021. Unfortunately, snap parliamentary elections had to be held in July, 2021 because no party could form a government or was willing to do so. The second elections failed as well to provide Bulgaria with a new government.
On November 14, 2021 Bulgaria held its third parliamentary elections in just one year and in relation to that we spoke with Daniela Bozhinova, who currently serves as a town councilor in Burgas, Bulgaria. As a political scientist and social entrepreneur who works for the advancement of democracy and democratic governance both locally and internationally, she has strong doubts on a realistic picture of how well democracy is being developed in Bulgaria and what are expectations for the future.
Prior to the third parliamentary elections, a major hope emerged in the face of the newly formed anti-corruption party, We Continue the Change (PP), led by Harvard graduates Kiril Petkov and Asen Vassilev. The party surprisingly came first at the elections, winning 67 out of the 240 open seats in the National Assembly. Many opponents of Borissov believe that PP will completely change politics in Bulgaria; develop the country, both economically and socially, and completely end corruption that is spread out. Ms. Bozhinova shared that personally she is both “hopeful and skeptical at the same time” regarding the party. This is not because she wants to definitely find some vulnerability, but because up to now,Bulgarians have experienced a series of “messiahs” or “supermen,” so to speak, who promised them salvation but then disappointed them. Thus, she is taking new promises for a change “with a grain of salt”. She really hopes that PP takes the needed actions for the recovery of the Bulgarian economy, which was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has to be pointed out that the party has not made many promises with regard to democratic reforms. Ms. Bozhinova really hopes that when they form a coalition this will be taken into account. She is hopeful that democratic reforms will be introduced, because ideas regarding the stabilisation and development of democracy in Bulgaria have been popularised by other eventual participants in PP’s coalition. For example, “a very effective reform will be the judicial reform and properly investigating some people who are to be blamed for pocketing public money and subsequently, taking them to court.” Bulgarians have not seen that in 30 years, even though they have heard a lot of promises.
Read more here