Bulgaria: Thousands demonstrate for overthrown government

Status: 06/23/2022 03:25 a.m

After the fall of the government, thousands of Bulgarians demonstrated for the pro-European Petkov and his reform efforts. Bulgaria is facing its fourth election in a year and a half in autumn.

By Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Studio Vienna

They don’t want to give up that easily. Almost 8,000 supporters of the ousted Prime Minister Kiril Petkov have gathered in front of the parliament in Sofia and chant: “Victory, victory” – although their hero has just lost the vote of no confidence in parliament, with 115 votes to 124. Petkow, a Harvard graduate and career changer in politics, has only been in office for six months.

His anti-corruption party, called “We continue the change”, is still the strongest faction in the Bulgarian parliament. He encourages himself and his supporters – it should not be over yet: “This vote of no confidence is a small step on the long road to the goal of winning the country back. Nothing can stop us because we are together. You are the guarantor that this country will look different after the next elections. Thank you!”

For the time being, Petkow continues to do business

The next elections are likely to be in September. For the time being, Petkov is continuing the business, for example as Prime Minister of Bulgaria at the Western Balkans summit in Brussels.

His more open policy toward neighboring North Macedonia was one reason he broke up what was already a difficult four-party coalition of very different parties, he says.

His party sees North Macedonia in the European Union, so far Bulgaria has blocked the start of accession talks. But, he also says, Parliament must decide. And that’s when he just lost his majority.

Dispute over North Macedonia

The people here in front of the Bulgarian parliament don’t really care about North Macedonia, they say. They feel every day that they live in the poorest country in the European Union. And they expected the reformer Petkov to change that.

“We have come to support a courageous government that has taken a stand against the mafia. The mafia, which has ruled Bulgaria for more than ten years, unfortunately not without the support and funding of the EU,” says a woman.

What is meant is the previous government of Boyko Borissov, who is now triumphant because his GERB party initiated and won the vote of no confidence. After the populist party of the Bulgarian singer Slawi Trifonov left Petkov’s young reform alliance, officially because of Petkov’s Macedonia policy. But Trifonov is also suspected that Petkov’s anti-corruption course was interfering with the business interests of some of Trifonov’s party friends.

Bulgaria remains the country of the permanent crisis

Bulgaria’s constitution prescribes three attempts at revival: First, Petkov is given another job as leader of the strongest faction. Then Borissov, with the second-largest faction of the long-ruling GERB party – which has already declared that it is not interested.

After that, there will be one last attempt before a new election has to take place in September. This is the most likely variant and it would be the fourth election in a year and a half. Bulgaria remains a country in permanent crisis.

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