Bad GDP figures from the eurozone on Wednesday but there’s a pleasant surprise from an unexpected quarter: Hungary’s economy contracted by only 0.9 percent in annual terms in the first three months.
Doesn’t sound like good news. But investors had been expecting a drop of as much as 1.4 per cent. With hopes of further improvement in the rest of 2013 buoying the Budapest market, the forint gained 1 per cent against the euro. Continue reading »
In an election marred by allegations of poll-rigging and vote-buying, Bulgaria’s former ruling GERB party came out on top. But it is far from clear who will form the government once the dust settles. Two possible scenarios are a coalition between GERB and ultranationalists that would cause disquiet in Europe, or a return to power of two opposition parties still regarded with suspicion by many Bulgarians. Continue reading »
Stanishev (left), Borisov (right)
“Too many grannies mean an unfed child” is the Bulgarian equivalent of “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
There are lots of fussy Balkan grannies competing in Sunday’s election – and they are likely to squabble for sometime afterwards about who gets to look after the feeble Bulgarian economy. Continue reading »
Bulgaria’s farm sector has started to look up after years of under-investment and fragmentation, with export-oriented agro-industry doing well and smaller farms seeing opportunities to sell quality produce abroad. But damage wreaked during the 1990s is still far from repaired, holding the country’s farmers back from achieving their potential. Continue reading »
A caretaker government in Sofia will do its utmost to steady the tiller before May’s snap elections, following several weeks of street protests that toppled the previous administration and plunged Bulgaria into political uncertainty. But what happens after the poll is anybody’s guess. Many in Sofia’s political elite seem reluctant to grasp the poisoned chalice of leadership and their capacity to satisfy the demands of a restive and inchoate popular movement is limited.
On Wednesday, President Rosen Plevneliev ended weeks of speculation by naming Marin Raykov, Bulgaria’s ambassador to France, as caretaker prime minister until the May 12 elections. Continue reading »
Romania averted recession in the last quarter of 2012, but can only look forward to a long and slow slog this year as external and internal problems weigh heavy.
GDP crept forwards at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.1 per cent from the third quarter, and an unadjusted 0.3 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011, the National Statistics Institute (INS) announced on Wednesday, giving details of figures published last month. Continue reading »
Bulgaria took a step into the political unknown on Thursday as parliament confirmed the resignation of the government. A caretaker administration will probably be formed following constitutional niceties, and hotly-contested early elections are expected within three months.
On Thursday, parliamentarians from the ruling GERB party voted to accept their own government’s offer to quit, announced on television the previous day by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Continue reading »
Bulgaria’s parliament accepted the resignation on Thursday of right-of-centre Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government, which stepped down after a series of nationwide protests over high energy prices turned violent. Continue reading »
By Otilia Simkova, Europe analyst, Eurasia Group
Bulgaria faces snap elections after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s 20 February resignation spurred by ten days of protests against electricity bills, which in January averaged €100. That is a significant portion of monthly income in a country where average monthly wages are just €387 and the average pension is just €150. Despite Borisov’s decision to step down, protestors will not be appeased and are likely to turn the heat up on the energy sector. Continue reading »
The Bulgarian government resigned on Wednesday, throwing the country into political uncertainty and compounding concerns about the faltering economy.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced the move on morning television, after days of street protests, including bloody clashes between police and demonstrators outside parliament on Tuesday night. Borisov said: “Every drop of blood is a shame for us.”
A snap election and change of government are now on the cards. Continue reading »
Those (few)Bulgarians who made it to the polls in Sunday’s referendum on nuclear power have voted in favour of further development.
The vote was a political exercise which is unlikely to lead to the building of new atomic plants any time soon. But it was an unusual show of support for the much-criticised industry. How many other European Union countries would have voted in favour? Continue reading »
It’s a spectacular video that has been watched across the world. During a party conference, a man leaps onto the stage and draws a gun at the leader’s head at point-blank range; the gun misfires and the speaker manages to knock it away; the gunman is dragged across the stage and subjected to a savage beating by besuited delegates.
But what does it tell us about Bulgaria’s reputation – and reality? Continue reading »
Italian energy company ERG Group is at present predominately an oil and gas operation – but like many of its competitors, it wants a bigger piece of the green energy action. Perhaps emerging Europe is the place to look?
In its €500m 2013-15 investment plans announced on Wednesday, ERG outlined a shift in priorities towards growing its wind power activities. and it is seeking expansion in the Romanian and Bulgarian markets. Both offer attractive investment opportunities thanks to state support, but how long will that last? Continue reading »
President Rosen Plevneliev sees Bulgaria as an island of stability within a troubled continent. The country has a low budget deficit and limited government debt in comparison with fellow EU members. Despite prolonged stagnation, it has required no bailout, unlike nearby Serbia, Romania and Greece.
But a new FT Special Report finds that beneath this stability lie problems around the state of democracy, organised crime and structural economic reform. Continue reading »
Pipeline will be laid on the bed of the Black Sea
Gazprom has been putting the final investment agreements in place for the South Stream project, clearing the way for construction of the 63bn cubic metres a year pipeline to Europe to begin next month. Never mind that demand for Russian gas in Europe is falling, or the $19bn cost of South Stream. The pipeline will help free Gazprom from dependence on Ukrainian transit pipelines and improve European energy security. Continue reading »