A month of continuous demonstrations against the Bulgarian government has brought the Balkan state’s population alongside struggles in
that are directly challenging political systems.
The Russian newspaper Pravda observed: “There are barely any local products in stores, everything is imported. Meat comes from
Germany, tomatoes from Turkey and Greece,
garlic from China, potatoes
from the . This happens in the country
with the annual average of 320 days of sunshine and fertile soil. Bulgarian
authorities consider local production unprofitable.” Czech Republic
The crisis is so bad that the country’s health system is on the point of collapse because high numbers of medically-trained staff have quit the country to work in other EU states.
Earlier this year, a mass movement brought down a right-wing government. Now the target is the regime led by the country’s Socialist Party. The party came out of the ruins of the Bulgarian Communist Party which had presided over a Stalinist regime until the revolutions that swept
Eastern Europe in 1991 led to its collapse.
Yesterday, the embattled government, which has assumed many characteristics of the old regime, denied speculation that it was about to resign. The foreign minister went on TV to urge protesters to “focus on a more positive direction with specific requests for specific policies, not just calls for resignation of the government."
This pathetic plea is certain to fall on deaf ears, however. The mass of the population is impoverished, cannot afford energy prices and sees the government of prime minister Plamen Oresharski as highly corrupt.
The current round of streets protests was triggered by the decision to appoint media mogul Delyan Peevski as – wait for it – national security chief. The government eventually abandoned the decision, but this only emboldened the protests. Now the opposition nationalist and right-wing parties are threatening to boycott parliament, a move that could force the resignation of the government.
In the last week, demonstrators have once again poured onto the streets of the capital
with the country’s “corrupt” political system in the firing line. They gathered
in front of the parliament chanting “mafia,” “resignation,” “go away with
The demonstrators clashed with riot police on several occasions as they decided to change tactics and blockade the parliament building. Up to 10,000 people have been out on the streets every evening since June 14.
At the last rally, Viktoria Katova, a 24-year-old protestor, said: “Things can't get any worse. I'd rather go for 10 snap elections in a row than put up with this corrupt, insolent political class that pretends it does not notice us”.
Another 55-year-old protester, physical education teacher Nikolay Staykov, said: “This isn't democracy.
Bulgaria has been parcelled
out to different business circles... what we have here is a state mafia. All
the parties are the same... We must wipe all that out and build the political
system up from scratch.”
The situation has so disturbed the EU bureaucracy that the French and German governments issued an unprecedented joint statement and had it published in the country’s mass circulation paper.
“It is clear that the Bulgarian public insists that the political, administrative, judicial and economic elites subscribe to the principles of public interest. It is obvious that the society fears the penetration of private interests in the public sphere,” the statement said. There was, they added, no room for the “oligarchic model” in the EU.
Yet it is this oligarchic-type of merging between state and corporate interests that is now pretty universal, not just throughout the EU but in most capitalist countries. This is one of the key factors behind a wave of global struggles. Behind them are not only economic demands but aspirations for political democracy. That’s what makes them revolutionary.