Bulgarians to re-elect the same government whose resignation they demanded in 2020

Photograph: Unsplash

A wave of protests against the centre-right coalition of Bulgaria’s Boyko Borissov is set to be brushed off as polls indicate the incumbents are set for a new term in power.

Nine months after the beginning of the protests, the same government, led by GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) and Boyko Borissov, is most likely to win the elections оn April 4. Dimitar Ganev, a political scientist and co-founder of the research centre Trend explains that there is almost no discussion about another winner apart from GERB and that no election poll showed an alternative outcome.

“He [Borissov] was ready to leave a couple of times. But his coalition partners managed to keep him on his position,” says Parvan Simeonov, a political scientist and the CEO of Gallup International. The Prime-Minister did agree to resign on the condition that there is a gathering of Grand National Assembly and constitutional changes. The protesters have a different point of view regarding the way GERB has been governing the country and according to Ivan Ivanov the country is ruled with “mafia approaches”.

“For half a year we have been shouting under their windows and some of us were called very offensive names,” says Iskra Micheva, a graphic design student in Sofia. Then she pointed to some of the words such as ‘herd’ and ‘freaks’ used by the politicians towards the protesters. Micheva added that we are all human beings and should help each other.

A live stream of the 56th days of the protests. Video: Ivo Bojkov

One of the reasons for the political turmoil in the country has been the interest of the political party There is Such A People, established by the television star Slavi Trifonov. The party is favoured by specifically by the youth and believes in a change of the governing model of Bulgaria, supported by the people.

There is Such A People was just the beginning for the challenge of the government. For the past nine months Bulgaria has been experiencing protests that demanded the resignation of the government and the Prime-Minister of the country, Boyko Borissov, accusing him of corruption.

Prime-Minister Boyko Borissov. Photograph: trud.bg

“The only thing that keeps them [the government] in power is the responsibility to keep away people from breaking the country. They cannot rule and they proved it,” said the Prime-Minister in Facebook statement. He addressed the people expressing dissatisfaction with the government and said that the government will not resign and explained that Bulgaria has dealt in the best way amongst its European neighbours with the pandemic.

However, there are three main reasons for Borissov and GERB to win according to Simeonov, the political scientist. The coronavirus pandemic which immobilized the older part of the population, contributed to the well-established name of GERB. Covid-19 impacted the electoral mass because the supporters of the opposition BSP (Bulgarian Socialist Party) are mainly those above 60. Because of the risks voting poses, less elderly people are likely to vote lowering numbers of BSP voters.

Another addition to the loss of BSP is the fact that there are a lot of inside problems according to Ganev. He adds that it cannot offer an authentic alternative to the Bulgarian citizens.

According to Simeonov, Borissov’s timing was key for his strategy to keep his position. “Borissov just had more patience. If he stepped down then it would mean that it was a doing of the people,” says Simeonov. By avoiding direct interaction with the protesters, he kept his position as a Prime-Minister in 2020 and now is possibly going to see a victory on April 4.

The last reason for the Prime-Minister’s stability is his economic influence of Bulgaria. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) saw 3,4% growth and the numbers of unemployed people have been falling.

Another possible reason is the solid core of voters that GEBR has, according to Ivanov who believes that these are “less educated people with a lower status”. He then explained that “Borissov is represented as ‘a man of the people’ who cares about the ordinary people”.

The outcome of the elections will be known shortly after April 4 but there is no expectation for another party to be the winner.

BSP, There is Such A People, and GERB did not comment.

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