Boyko Borisov at a press conference in Sofia on February 19, 2013

Borisov may still have the last word

On February 20, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's announcement that he is resigning caught everyone by surprise. Writing in "Standart", Bulgarian journalist Martin Karbovski ponders four possible outcomes for the country given the new political landscape.

Published on 21 February 2013 at 15:57
Boyko Borisov at a press conference in Sofia on February 19, 2013

Has no one noticed that in 25 years of democracy, we are simply repeating the following scenario: Saviour– BSP [Bulgarian Socialist Party, the former communist party] – Saviour – BSP – Saviour – BSP? It is as if the system has a bug in it.

But it appears that in Bulgaria the Saviours that get rid of the former communists have a short shelf-life while the BSP seems indestructible. An interesting factoid, is it not?

Today's situation is, however, slightly different. Saviour Boyko Borisov has not used up all of his resources nor is he totally discredited - much to the chagrin of the socialists. And, until there is proof otherwise, we have no other Saviour on the horizon. It may even be too late for us to have a real one – one who is sincere, radiant and honest. We therefore have to make do with what is available on the shelf. Here are the four outcomes that I see looming following Boyko Borisov's resignation.

1.The Greek scenario

Option one: as of yesterday, a Greek outcome is possible for Bulgarians. Nothing is known about the care-taker government responsible for preparing the ground for the July legislative elections. But high hopes must not be raised because today we find ourselves in the middle of a game that is not going to be played out to the end due to one of the teams suddenly leaving the pitch. Everything will thus depend on the transparency and the honesty of the upcoming ballot. The Greek scenario plays out thus: the rise of a fascist movement – from either the Right or the Left – a sort of local Golden Dawn that would benefit from the constant power struggle between the BSP and the Saviour. We already had a foretaste of this watching the skinheads who demonstrate chanting "They're all rotten". And, because all the other parties are "rotten", a Golden Dawn with a Bulgarian twist would have a wide-open path before it and it would make us bitterly regret our traditional nationalists.

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2.The Bulgarian Socialist Party takes over

Option two: the BSP takes power. But it is improbable that a government dominated by the socialists can guarantee the country's prosperity because, like the other representatives of the European Left, ours will also begin over-spending. Why? To maintain its credibility with the unemployed, who, as everyone knows, are more likely to vote for the left than those in employment. We will be in for a few years of sweet lethargy but then we will once again hope for the arrival of a Saviour. And it is back to square one.

3.Institutional deadlock

Option three: a dead-locked parliament. Recent opinion polls place the BSP and the PM's party, the [conservative] GERB both at 29 per cent. If this power balance persists, we will have a parliament that resembles a car without brakes carrying a bear, a snake and a magician all trying to take the wheel. The most likely outcome is that the car will crash. In that case, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms [the MDL representing Muslim Bulgarians] will take the wheel but, unable to govern alone, the MDL will form a coalition with the BSP – another option we are very familiar with. So here again, it is back to square one.

4.Borisov rides to the rescue

Option four: Boyko Borisov wins the election convincingly and comes back on his white horse – once again in the role of the Saviour. This is possible because several thousand people, led by 200 thugs, protesting against rising electricity prices do not constitute an electorate. If this is the outcome of the vote, the BSP will surely mobilise its troops to march in the streets shouting that the elections were "rigged". Borisov is not the most hated politician in the country. After the most recent events, I only hope that he realises that he is not the most loved one either. But anyone who has wiped his name off the political registry is terribly mistaken.

Is there another option? I am stunned to hear fools state that they want no politicians – known or unknown. This is a true disaster because the number of these people is rising in Bulgaria. But politics and those that practice it are a necessary evil. We have not found anything better. Such is life.

From Prague

Clash of cultures

On February 20, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov resigned in the wake of demonstrations against an increase in the price of electricity supplied by par ČEZ. Now that the Czech energy giant is facing the threat of having its licence revoked, Hospodářské noviny notes that —

the ČEZ investment drive in the Balkans was risky right from the outset. […] Its presence in Albania, which was recently terminated with the de facto nationalisation of its operation there, was excessively risky. […] The case of Bulgaria is quite different: the country is a member of the EU, which could play the role of arbitrator in this dispute. […] At the same time, the affair has emerged from a clash of cultures. Whereas the dogma of the "pure market" has figured large in the manner in which Czech companies have done business the early 1990s, it is still viewed as a rip-off ideology in Bulgaria.

But this clash of cultures could have some positive effects, argues the Prague business daily —

Bulgarians will learn that major companies set energy prices in consultation with the state and that their national regulator approves them. […] As for Czech companies, they will learn that pressure to maximise profits is not always sustainable, even if the legislative framework allows it.

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