DEMOCRACY NEARLY KILLS BULGARIANS

DEMOCRACY NEARLY KILLS BULGARIANS

Tue, 11/03/2015 - 15:49

Democracy in the sense of getting citizens popularly elected to public office has never been easy in Bulgaria's quarter of a century of the experience, but it turned nearly lethal on the day following the local elections at the end of October.

The Armeets Sports Hall, inaugurated with much fanfare by no one lesser than the sitting prime minister, Boyko Borisov, and hailed as the largest in Sofia, turned out to be quite comfy for a game of basketball to be watched by 12,000, but miserably not enough for about 5,000 officials who were supposed to bring in the ballots they had counted in their constituencies to what in Bulgaria is known as the Central Election Committee.

The drama started after members of the radical VMRO, or Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation, the Greens and a few others showed up at the sports hall in their capacity as "citizens" to voice concern the ballot and been "manipulated." The hall had already been locked up and no ballot-counter was allowed to leave as the law stipulated the bag of ballots and the person holding it could not be separated until delivered.

TV cameras showed bunk beds being unfolded on the hall's pitch to accommodate officials who had gone without sleep for over 24 hours. A system to disperse coffee and sandwiches was introduced whereby officials were given coupons. Different-coloured coupons would bring the same food and drinks, but thirsty and hungry officials soon discovered that they could use them only in specific time slots, in keeping with an individual coupon's colour. To put it in another way, if you were a ballot-counting official in Bulgaria's local elections equipped with a pink coupon and you wanted a cup of coffee after 11am you wouldn't be able to get one because pink meant valid only until 10:30am.

As officials became increasingly desperate for food, drinks and sleep, emergency ambulances were called in. A total of 117 people were examined, 12 were admitted to hospital. One pregnant official had a miscarriage inside the building, and several others fainted. More ingenuous officials went to the insides of the doors out and scribbled on the glass panes: "SOS! We are taken hostage!"

The chief of the Sofia regional elections committee said everything inside the Army Sports Hall was "normal," that it was a matter of "personal choice" for officials to sit on chairs or "recline on the floor," and that at least some of the 117 examined had feigned sickness.

On the positive side, Bulgaria's dabble with democracy did not produce any deaths, contrary to early reports that an official had actually died inside the sports hall.

Issue 109

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

three generations monument
'DEFILING' ABANDONED PILE OF STONES
Perushtitsa, now a small and offbeat town rarely visited by tourists, is known to every Bulgarian as the sight of a massacre in the failed April 1876 Uprising against the Ottomans.

gabrovo carnival
KOSTYA KOPEYKIN'S FOUNDATION KICKS OFF
Though Dead Souls used to be on the national school curriculum, few latterday Bulgarians, and possibly even fewer English speakers, have actually read it, so here is a short synopsis.

buzludzha night.jpg
BUZLUDZHA LIGHTS UP AGAIN
The Flying Saucer, which in recent years has become one of the Top 10 world monuments for urbex, or dark tourism, was constructed in the early 1980s. It was designed to celebrate the Bulgarian Communist Party, in control of this country from 1944 to 1989.

lz airplane
FLYING LOW
In early June a small plane flew into Bulgarian airspace from the northwest and landed at what used to be a commercial airport near Vidin. Apparently, the aircraft refuelled.

airport bulgaria
IS THERE A PILOT IN THE PLANE?
In early June a small plane flew into Bulgarian airspace from the northwest and landed at what used to be a commercial airport near Vidin. Apparently, the aircraft refuelled.

bulgarian parliament doors
IRON BARS, NO IRON BARS
Lovers of freedom were quick to cry fowl. Is this what the supposedly liberal, pro-Western Changes Continued government is doing? Protecting itself from the love of the general public with iron bars?

russian embassy bulgaria
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
A recent example is the Sofia City Council's decision to rename one of the streets around where the Russian Embassy is situated to The Heroes of Ukraine, and a nearby small square to Boris Nemtsov.

Boyko Borisov under arrest
WE CATCH THEM, THEY LET THEM GO FREE
As soon as the news of the Thursday evening arrests broke out a significant chunk of the Bulgarian population went into a frenzied jubilation comparable, according to one observer, to that goal at the 1994 World Championship Bulgaria scored against Germany.

joke of the month
OLD IS NEW, AND VICE VERSA
The leaders of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, or BSP, Kornelia Ninova; of Yes Bulgaria, Hristo Ivanov; and of Democratic Bulgaria, or DB, Gen Atanas Atanasov resigned.

joke of the month.jpg
HYPOCRISY AD INFINITUM
The video, shot in the National Assembly, shows an young MP for the ruling Changes Continued political party who takes up the rostrum to make a statement to the house and then... forgets what he was about to do.

elections november 2021.jpg
BALLOT EATING AS LAST RESORT
Ahead of the 14 November general election some parties – notably the DB, or Democratic Bulgaria, and the ITN, or There Is Such a People party – insisted on taking away the good old-fashioned paper election ballots that you had to use a pen to put a cross ag

OF PIGEONS AND VACCINATIONS
In the neighbourhood, I asked a retired woman, who habitually makes a public nuisance by throwing bread crumbs out of her fourth-floor balcony to feed Sofia's uncontrolled population of pigeons, to stop doing that because a uncontrolled population of pigeon