23 years of democratic process and changes in Bulgaria did not brought the expected result. A small sparkle in the middle of June, controversial state appointment, set thousands to protest on the streets for days in a peaceful manner, with their children along, against government and politicians mocking them for two decades already. Why is this happening now? Why now Bulgarians all over the world join with thousands in Sofia demonstrating, united under the already well-known worldwide hashtag, #ДАНСwithme.
In the days following the mass demonstrations in Bulgaria, along with the extremely creative messages of the DANSwithme (#ДАНСwithme) movement and the thousands participants who gather on the streets every day at 18:30, many international media, as well as by-standing observers, asked a contra question “Why do Bulgarians protest actually?”
The scandalous appointment of a new national security agency chief
has been revoked, now Bulgarians want the resignation of the government for suspected mafia relations and corruption? Is this the case of this government only? When did that happen – today, yesterday, the day before? No, it happens for years. Today the Bulgarians stand against accumulations
– the quantitative accumulations that lead to qualitative changes. This seems strange enough to most of the by-standers, logically, they assume that a large protests like these must have a recent, concrete reason, and in most cases, cannot imagine how, if the problems were so big, a whole nation will be willing to wait for so long up until the moment everything is as sensitive as an open wound.
As a matter of fact, the protests in Turkey, Brazil and Bosnia, like the ones in Bulgaria, erupted in thousands, for one, by itself smaller reason, especially given all other bigger and more significant problems these states have. Turkey stood up after a park was about to be destroyed, Brazil - for rising the price for public transport ticket, Bosnia - for a baby, threatened to die due to the lack of personal identification number. Bulgaria repined against the appointment of a new national security agency chief. However, this is only the top of the iceberg, the real occasion lies deep in the water. But sometimes one small sparkle sets the fire.
For what is Bulgaria protesting?
For a better life - the reason of anyone who will ever express public disagreement, from Iceland to Nauru. And they do it peacefully, positive and creative - people march down the streets with their children and pets, with national flags, often accompanied by folklore bands with drums,.Wherever they stop, they clean after themselves. The policemen guard the demonstrations in heat close to 30 degrees, for which protesters buy them water as a symbol of solidarity with their hard work. People often close the streets and just dance on them. (VIDEO
Against what is Bulgaria protesting?
Against accumulated with years inadequate, economically unprofitable, socially irresponsible and morally absurd politics. Sounds vague, inaccurate and too interpretative. Mostly, why they do it now, after all these years? Why people continue to rally on the streets since the scandalous national security agency chief has been revoked, since it seems that most of the protesters’ demands are met by the government proposals for changes in the school programs, changes in important ministry positions, etc.). Probably at this time, there is no other similar example in Europe where a government obediently listens to its people while it actually has all methods to ignore them.
Because for a first time in a very long time, everybody in Bulgaria felt directly provoked. The question is, why the government does not ignore their demands. And its motivation sets a fire within seconds - because they will do whatever it takes to remain in power, including short moments of submission. There can’t be a single reasonably thinking person, believing the government refuses to resign in order to guarantee stability, especially after making so many mistakes and controversial moves in just a month after being elected. Next to the national security appointment of a media mogul with no professional experience in the field, there was an appointment of a deputy interior minister who used to be a manager for widely known grey economy grouping, and so on, and so on.
People demonstrate against the bad governance of any political background in the last 23 years
, which made many leave the country permanently (from close to 9 million in 1986, today Bulgarians are a little over 7.5 millions), labelled Bulgaria as the poorest EU nation, widely known for criminal activities and frauds in other EU member states, instead of being known with its 13 centuries of history. Concretely, now people stand against open, publically declared mockery with them. Such as the efforts of the current Socialist Party leader to neglect the protests by naming them organized by the opposition, or claming they only occur inSofia, while the rest of the country is quiet (interview in Die Presse
). Such as the statements of MPs thatthe protesters are “lumpenproletariat”
(term, used by Karl Marx for describing working class that is unlikely to ever achieve class consciousness and is therefore lost to socially useful production), such as the articles of journalists, affiliated with parties, explaining that people who have enough money to pay their bills and food should not protest. (ARTICLE
In this situation, the response of the vox populi is very clear - everyone must leave. The demonstrations call for the resignation of the government which will also leads to the resignation of the parliament and all parties and their members currently there. People don’t rally against the Socialist party or the prime minister concretely, but much more then that – for example against the leader of the Nationalist party “Ataka” (and current MP), the least because ever since the new parliament is in power, on at least three occasions he expressed verbal and physical aggression against policemen (VIDEO
), barricaded one street in the center of the capitol and paid people to throw stones at the demonstrators (PICTURES
). The so-called Bulgarian political elite is being oligarchic and mafia related not since yesterday, but for the last 20 years. Not a single Bulgarian government since 1990 did not appointed “friends’ with controversial qualities on important state positions, or have not been supportive for private companies who later steal from the state’s capital. Not a single one, neither a socialist, nor a liberal or center right or so.
in February, following massive protests and a man setting himself on fire to death, the mayor of Varna, Bulgaria’s seaside capitol, resigned after 15 years on this position, initially as a candidate of the Socialists, later supported by the center right GERB party. (more info
) He is now finally accused in abusing his position’s responsibilities and privileges for corruption practices.
According to a statement made earlier this year by the caretaker Prime Minister Marin Raykov, over 50% of different state owned companies is concentrated in one single private bank, the Corporate Trade Bank, whose CEO is being openly affiliated with various political groups (more info). All elections in Bulgaria, from the first democratic ones in 1990 until today, mark concrete and proven cases of people paid to vote for certain parties or voters in possession of Bulgarian documents due to double citizenships who are specifically brought to vote on election days, again, for a concrete party. In one case, over 50 000 EUR have been paid to the former leader of the DPS party (Movement for rights and freedoms, representing, mostly, the Turkish minority in Bulgaria) for consultancy on a hydrological project, although his professional and educational backgrounds don’t even come close to such appointment (more info). Nothing of this has been done in the one month rule of the current government, it has been there, created and developed for years.
All above mentioned facts bring up the obvious question why Bulgarians waited for so long, but mostly – why was a government of the same political figures elected in the early elections this May.
The claim that this government has been elected is again only the top of the iceberg. On the last elections, the electoral activity was insignificant. The voices of those who didn’t vote because they haven’t found anyone to represent them in any of the old and well known fractions, was thunderously loud. Nobody won the elections, in fact everybody lost – not only GERB as previously ruling party, but all parties, which together marked decrease in their usual voting percentages. The last elections on May 12th 2013 came earlier following the resignation of the GERB government in February after protests for high electricity prices. This has been seen as a chance for the then opposition to step into power again, but they clearly missed the main message of the February protests which were as well, against the corruption practices of the state. The message was as clear as the one today – people didn’t want any of the present politicians. However, obtaining power turned sweeter then seeing the obvious political and sociological data.
Much like many times before in all 20 something years of democracy in Bulgaria, the change of power in the government after the elections has been used for revanchism as a priority number one – whether it was with immediate dismissals on all administrative levels or with constant accusations against the previous government for all state shortcomings existing for decades already. One thing comes very obvious - Bulgarians didn’t elect in May the Socialist party government as an alternative of the center right GERB, the Socialists offer the same old faces (and thus practices) as 4 years before, when the government was again in their hands and was exercising similar corruption practices as the ones mentioned here. And this information is known to everyone. People are obviously sick of all politicians - in February they managed to put down one party, and were disguised enough to not vote for any other in May. Today they express their anger on the streets as a last possible measure and still do it peacefully, way more peacefully then the situation actually requires.
For number of days already, Bulgaria is protesting against a 23 year old lack of political morality and change. A small effort to tell the current politicians they are not welcome any more was made individually on the early elections, when a lot of people didn’t vote, but due to the specifics of the electoral code, it changed very little. Only a small sparkle after was needed to set the fire -the controversial appointment of a new national security agency chief was a proof that the parties will sing the same old song over and over again, just the tone will be a bit different. What Bulgaria wants, however, is a new song and mostly, a brand new dance, like the protests’ leading Twitter and Facebook hashtag, #DANSwithme. Picture sources:ДАНСwithme group on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/events/475048025915600/?ref=ts&fref=ts; Varnautre.bg