Bulgaria: a third ballot to end the crisis



Three legislative elections in less than a year. “A negative record for Bulgaria” notes in Sofia, Boriana Dimitrova, sociologist at the research center Alpha Research. But this is not the only underperformance of the country, led by an interim government, which has been accumulating for several months a political crisis, a health crisis and an energy crisis. “The real stake of the elections of November 14, explains Boriana Dimitrova, it is first of all to have a stable government that can be part of long-term policies and above all answer the most urgent questions. “

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Foremost among which is the management of the Covid-19 epidemic which is taking catastrophic proportions in Bulgaria: the country has the lowest vaccination rate in the entire European Union (22% of complete vaccination), and one highest death rate among the 27 (25,000 deaths to date for a country of 7 million inhabitants). The fragile health system is severely damaged. Without political leadership, the country struggles to find solutions.

Repeated corruption scandals

The last legislative elections which took place in July ended in failure which further aggravated the crisis in this state, the poorest in the EU. With only 42% of voters, Bulgaria had the lowest turnout in its democratic history. And if the populist party “There is such a people” of singer and television host Slavi Trifonov came out on top with 24% of the vote, the rock star proved unable to form a coalition in Parliament to rule and succeed. former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, in power for almost ten years.

The polls this time announce a slightly better mobilization on Sunday, in particular thanks to the organization on the same day of the presidential election, even though it is a parliamentary regime. However, participation may not exceed 50%, according to projections. Because Bulgarians continue to be wary of historical formations splashed with repeated corruption scandals, such as the GERB, the right-wing conservative party of Boyko Borisov and his socialist rival, the BSP.

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Voters are also uncertain about the new formations that have emerged this year. The most recent “Keep Changing” was founded by Harvard-trained former interim government ministers Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev. The two men, who want to be reformers, were among thousands of demonstrators to take to the streets in the summer of 2020, to demand the resignation of Borissov.

The key retiree vote

A few hours before the ballot, Todorka Ranguelova, a 76-year-old pensioner, does not take offense. She is deeply against a political class which, she believes, has abandoned her. Originally from Pernik, an industrial town 30 kilometers from the capital, Sofia, she struggles to survive on her retirement pension which is equivalent to € 150 per month. She comments annoyingly on a newspaper article. “Here we say that politicians laugh at retirees because seniors do not demonstrate against them and do not stone them. ” Before resuming: “Yet that’s what they deserve … They make lots of campaign promises that they never keep”, she sighs with annoyance. “Look, instead of taking care of my garden, I have to take any odd job so as not to be a burden on my children. “

The vote of the seniors – who represent almost a third of the Bulgarian population – is particularly coveted by the parties. “We are obviously instrumentalized. But we are not fooled, assures Katia Hristova, president of an association of retirees in Pernik. But I will still vote. We launched a national initiative to pass a law to revalue pensions. We would like it to be ratified. “ But there is only one solution for this: elect a stable parliament capable of leading the country.

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