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Rearranging the political puzzle is in the interest of the four parliamentary parties in Bulgaria

30 May 2013 / 20:05:44  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The new Bulgarian cabinet has already assumed office and the time as regards the effectiveness of its actions has already started counting down. The most impressive fact about it is certainly the support of the nationalist Attack party, which, before the elections, would not have expressed the readiness of becoming the mainstay of a cabinet involving the Turkish minority Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) party.

Journalist Petar Volgin - author of several books, the latest of which is entitled "Radical Jewish Encyclopaedia" - is talking with GRReporter about the change in the political scene, the composition of the cabinet and the main issues that it is to decide.

Mr. Volgin, some time ago, it was unthinkable for a government involving the MRF and supported by the Attack party to exist but it is already a fact. How would you comment on that?

It is perfectly normal for this to happen because none of the political parties is interested in new elections at present. Each of them is interested in this parliament continuing to function and The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and MRF forming a government; the Attack party is also interested in the cabinet because it would like to have this tribune, which would allow its leader Volen Siderov to disseminate his messages and visions of society. This is much easier when you are in parliament than if you are not. Ultimately, the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party is hardly interested in new elections since the forthcoming investigations of senior party officials would further worsen its image. So, it could hardly achieve better results after two or three months.

How do you see the future of GERB? After its failure, the National Movement for Stability and Progress (NMSP) disintegrated. Do you think that GERB will survive or is the party ill-fated too?

I think the comparison with the NMSP is only partially grounded, because the leaders of both parties - Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Boyko Borisov - are quite different. Indeed, both parties rested solely on their personal qualities, but let's not forget that these are two very different people. If Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is a person of a certain age who is not able to be active and even aggressive, Boyko Borisov is just the opposite. I think Boyko Borisov will attempt to return to power by all possible means. He has the malice, the ambition to take revenge for this humiliating position in which he is at present. Therefore, he will do everything possible to rehabilitate himself and this can only happen through the party. That is to say that his task would be to preserve the party, to protect it from the blows, in order for it to be able to return to power. Personally, I see an objective possibility of GERB’s persistence and even resurgence. It is as follows: due to the absence of other right-wing parties - it is another matter whether GERB is a right-wing party, but it is defined as such and is present in the European political space as such - the real chance of Boyko Borisov and GERB is to fill the right-wing space, not allowing the emergence of any other serious right-wing project. As we know, everything there is on a large scale at present. We have some pathetic remnants of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), the unsuccessful project of Meglena Kuneva and the like. So, GERB’s real chance is to be able to dig itself into this space deep enough. If it does this, the party will be able to survive further on.

Do you think that Bulgaria is entering a period of political stability? Will this cabinet survive long?

This depends primarily on the cabinet itself, because, in the end, it has to do only one thing - to change the philosophy with which Bulgaria was ruled over the past four years and the years before. It was absolutely strict financial stability, no, or very small, deficits, accurate implementation of everything that our European partners, and especially Germany, wanted from us. Of course, this required a lot of adversity from the population and this is the case in fact. Incomes and pensions were frozen, unemployment was growing. What in English is called “austerity” was introduced in Bulgaria, as in other European countries, and ultimately, it has only led to further impoverishment of the population.

If this cabinet continues the same policy, which penultimate Finance Minister Simeon Djankov was actively pursuing, this cabinet is doomed.

However, if this government decides to pursue a different policy that is consistent with the fact that it is the people who are the most important rather than some imaginary financial stability, the meaning of which  is actually unknown, then I think this cabinet will have a chance to win the confidence, if not of the whole society, then at least of a significant part of it and it will be able to survive longer.
The statements made so far make it clear that the first acts of the cabinet will be to increase child benefits and to repeal the ban on smoking in public places. How would you comment on this? Don’t these actions sound very populist?

Tags: PoliticsGovernmentParliamentAttackMRFPetar Volgin
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