Bulgarian protests enter third day, clash with Police

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Friday, 22 February 2013

 

After spontaneous non-partisan mass protests across the country, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government resigned on Wednesday, February 20. The resignation came as a surprise, as less than 24 hours earlier Borisov had declared that he would not resign.

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Although some Bulgarians were quick to see Borisov’s defeat in the resignation, the move is far from public acceptance of failure. In fact, it is quite politically shrewd. Parliamentary elections are only months away and Borisov had to make the best out of the dangerous situation that the mass protests put him in.

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On Tuesday, he made promises which are impossible to achieve, such as decreasing the price of electricity by 8 percent. Then on Wednesday, he made a touching speech about how “every drop of blood for us is shameful” (referring to the violent clashes during the protests in Sofia), and declared that now the Bulgarians “should choose: Stanishev, Dogan, Kostov, whoever they want”, referring to the leaders of three opposition parties – Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Movement for Rights and Liberties (MRL) and United Democratic Forces (UDF) respectively.
Borisov produced the intended effect: it stunned the opposition and motivated his supporters to go out and support him to withdraw his resignation. Such political circus is nothing new in Bulgaria and maybe that is the reason why international media has not paid much attention to it. However, it is a mistake to ignore the protests that have been going on in Bulgaria for the past three weeks.

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Unlike their Greek neighbours, Bulgarians do not go out in large numbers to protest regularly. When they do overcome passivity and political apathy, it is always for an important reason. What is happening right now in Bulgaria is extremely important. It is much more than an economic protest and a byproduct of the global financial crisis.

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It is a sign that democratic system in its present form has failed the Bulgarian people and now they demand its overhaul. Bulgarian protesters are resolved to continue until their demands are met, even after the resignation of the government.

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Voices of dissatisfaction rose steadily across the country in early February, as Bulgarian households received their electricity and heating bills. People started gathering at local branches of private electricity companies and burned their power bills demonstratively.

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Public anger grew as company representatives started declaring publicly that there was no miscalculation in the charges, even though consumers reportedly had to pay 1.5 to 2 times more than what they had paid in previous months. The government intervened, saying it would investigate, but results were not produced fast enough to quench public anger.

http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/22782/46/

 



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