SOCIAL TENSION AND DISILLUSIONMENT
By Prof. Maria Pirgova
THE CITIZENS WANT
TO TAKE THE STATE BACK INTO THEIR HANDS
February 2013 brought street protests and serious civil unrest to Bulgarian political life. The protests were a manifestation of a basic feature of the national psychology of the Bulgarian people - remaining silent until patience is exhausted and then exploding against the party which has the temerity to consider that they have already won the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Thousands of people came out onto the streets. They protested every evening in the large cities of Bulgaria. Both the protests and the resignation of the government were completely unexpected, not forewarned and threw the relatively stable country into a political crisis and election chaos.
Why did the protests erupt and why were they unexpected? Against a background of intolerable poverty, in a country in which pensions and salaries range from 100 to 150 euros per month, a depressed civil society erupted against the unrestricted power of the monopolies. Unable even to pay for electricity or heating, a huge part of the Bulgarian population cannot maintain vital functions. They cannot afford healthcare, their children cannot attend schools. Youth unemployment is more than 30% and real unemployment is about 20% of the working population. In 2012 about 300 000 small and medium companies went bankrupt.
Such an economic condition can
hardly be called stable. T h e Bulgarian protesters do not want just the replacement of one government by another. They no longer are willing to accept the system of complete power by the monopolies, nor are they willing to allow themselves to be lulled to sleep by the politicians.
So what is next? At the moment - at the end of March, 2013 - Bulgaria has an interim government appointed by the Bulgarian president, Rossen Plevneliev, which is charged with the task of organising early elections on the 12th May. This government is part of GERB, the party which supported the election of the present president. It will continue the neo-liberal policies