What is Happening in Bulgaria?
The 2020 Protests in Bulgaria started on the 9th of July 2020. This was 4 months ago.1 Bulgarian people are to this day gathering on the streets demanding resignation and prison-time for the Government, and specifically, for PM Boyko Borissov and the Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev.2 People are accusing the Government of corruption and other unlawful activities.3 On a side note, nation-wide protests occurred in 2019 due to the appointment of Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev, as people believed that he was not an independent personality, which is (as most people know) one of the most important and sought qualities in a State’s Chief Prosecutor.4 The protests in 2019 were, however, not successful.
Seemingly, the 4-month long protests still in motion are not bringing about the intended results. PM Borissov refuses to resign to this day and he bases his decision on two main things: firstly, the elections in Bulgaria will occur shortly, in a few months, and secondly, due to the instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he believes that it is not the time to leave Bulgarian people without a leader.5
Throughout the protests, a tendency developed whereby people were taking sides – some were in support of the protesters, but others felt like they have had enough of protests. Protesters did make regular people’s lives more complicated when they blocked important roads in the major cities in Bulgaria. In that moment, even the people who were neutral in the beginning, started being unsupportive of the protests.6
Another division occurred when the opposing political party started supporting the protesters. Specifically, Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev, urged the Government to resign and accused the Government in corruption, among other unlawful acts. A turning point was then seen in people’s opinion about the protests, which were becoming, or at the least, it seems as if they were becoming rather political, and not independent. These events developed to the point where the protests were about the President vs the Prime Minister, and the actual issues which gave the beginning of the protests, were slowly being forgotten by non-participants.7 Outside viewers believed that the protesters are unsure of what they were seeking and the protests have lost their way.8
Will It Get Any Better?
PM Boyko Borissov did, in fact, ask the resignation of a number of Ministers in the Government in the endeavor to calm Bulgarian people. This act was, however, not appreciated by the protesters.9
Frankly, the situation is difficult. Firstly, less than half Bulgarian citizens voted in the past elections. This occurs because the popular opinion does not believe in the prospects of any candidate-party to make Bulgaria better. For years, the political party ‘GERB’ has been winning the elections, and while on the surface there are visible changes in Bulgaria, the core of the State is still suffering.10
While the protests might not result in the resignation of the Prime Minister and the Chief Prosecutor, they might lead to a bigger voter-turnout, thus bringing new faces in the Parliament and the Government of Bulgaria.
Will the Government Resign?
No. While there have been Ministers who resigned, the Prime Minister is still in power. He has stated that he will await regular elections as this is the smart thing to do in the middle of a pandemic.
1 https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/380166/bulgaria-anti-government-protesters-to-gather-in-sofia- september-22-update-14
2 https://www.euronews.com/2020/10/17/bulgaria-protests-enter-100th-consecutive-day-as-demonstrators- denounce-widespread-corrupt
4 https://independence-judges-lawyers.org/reports/report-independence-of-public-prosecutors-corruption-and- human-rights-july-13-2020/
6 https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/protest-sreshtu-blokiraneto-na-patishta-v-sofija.html (source in Bulgarian language)
7 https://www.dw.com/bg/%D0%B5%D0%B4%D0%BD%D0%B0- %D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%B7%D0%B0- %D0%BF%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%B5%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B5-%D0%B2- %D0%B1%D1%8A%D0%BB%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%8F/a-54343100
9 https://sofiaglobe.com/2020/07/15/bulgarian-pm-borissov-tells-finance-economy-and-interior-ministers-to- resign/