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21 days of protests on the streets of Sofia, political instability continues to rock the nation

05 July 13

Largely unreported by western European media, peaceful protests on the streets of the Bulgarian capital have continued into their 21st day. At least 15,000 people congregate every night at 18.30 at various organised locations, then track across the city to parliament. Major disruption and road closures result, but unlike so many protests the public and local business are truly onside in notable support. Not a repeat of the February protests triggered by high energy prices, this time the underhand appointment of young media mogul Delyan Peevski (32), as the chairman for the Agency for National Security (DANS) sparked public outcry. Peevski was previously a member of the inter-institutional committee, which issues licenses for the trade of weaponry. In 2007, he was sued for blackmailing and was subsequently dismissed from his post as deputy minister for having a complete "lack of morals." Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev fired him and accused him of malpractice.

 

British Ambassador Jonathan Allen wrote on twitter: "the appointment has been rushed through with no hearings, debate or opportunity to find out about candidate. Why?". Peevski’s appointment has since been revoked, but the protests continue as the voice of the people take a stance against monopoly, mafia and poor governance as a whole. Now uninterested in the removal of one politician or another, they are determined to be heard until progressive change is higher on the political agenda than kickbacks and personal power games.

The current coalition government is best described as being held together by a shoestring; the ruling collation has just 119 seats and requires 120 to achieve a 50% majority. They are entirely reliant on the minority party ‘Ataka’, who are best compared to the far right British National Party (BNP), not to register to vote at each parlimentary sitting and thus reduce the majority required to 117 votes.

Delyan Peevski

With just 5 seats, the coalition relies upon this balance to have any chance to approve new laws and govern. It is the most flimsy of scenarios for any government and recognised as unsustainable by all but the coalition.

The overriding fear of Bulgarians is that the current government is willingly taking the country back to a bygone era of greater corruption, bureaucracy and state supported monopoly. Today the Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, who has publically supported the motives of the protestors, called for early elections just six weeks after the results of the last, “early parliamentary elections are the only democratic solution to the crisis we are in. To tell people that new early elections are a dangerous scenario is to tell them that democracy is dangerous”.