Ask people to name one famous Bulgarian and the answer would probably not be Vasil Levski, freedom fighter and the country’s foremost hero. Nor would it be Tsar Simeon, who ruled over the Bulgarian empire that famously touched three seas.
No – the Bulgarian name most likely to glitter in the popular imagination is Hristo Stoichkov, a volatile and brilliant association football forward who fired the national team to a historic fourth place at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA, leading the tournament’s top scorers chart along the way. Continue reading »
The government besieged, protesters and police packing the streets, an ongoing air of uncertainty over the country’s future – name the country. Not Turkey, or Egypt, but Bulgaria. But while demonstrators rage against the newly-appointed prime minister, the Balkan country has received a remarkably upbeat report from the International Monetary Fund, which praised the country’s economic stability and policies.
At the end of a regular staff visit on July 3, Michele Shannon, IMF Mission Chief for Bulgaria issued a statement that may give a fledgling, fragile and beleaguered government some succour. Continue reading »
Five hundred years of Ottoman rule, 45 years of Communism and the past two decades of democracy tainted by corruption and economic failure have given Bulgarians a substantial dose of disrespect for their rulers. The latest government, which tiptoed over the line into office in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, presides over a country that is as sceptical – even cynical – as ever. It also faces a sluggish, if stable, economy with the EU’s lowest incomes. 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 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 »
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 »
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 »
Pre-election machinations may be behind a decision by Bulgaria’s parliament this week to hold a referendum on a nuclear power plant.
The referendum, to be held in January, follows the government’s March decision to cancel the development of the Danube-side Belene nuclear power plant (NPP), in which Bulgaria had already invested 1.4bn levs ($925m), with one reactor already completed. Continue reading »
As expected, Bulgaria’s government rode out yet another vote of no confidence this morning, but that won’t make the issues that triggered it – corruption and organised crime – go away. Continue reading »