FORUM

BORISOV'S DOWNFALL?

Some analysts were surprised, others were not: the 11 July snap election, called in the wake of the failure of Bulgaria's 45th National Assembly to set up a government, returned more or less the same results. Boyko Borisov's GERB continues to be a large and monolithic political party if led by an increasingly erratic strongman. It was pushed into the second place by a margin of less than a percent by Slavi Trifonov's ITN, or There Is Such a People, grouping. Third comes the beleaguered BSP, or Bulgarian Socialist Party.

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WHERE TO FROM NOW ON?

The month of June, officially the election campaign month ahead of the early ballot scheduled for 11 July, has been extraordinary even in the standard of Bulgarian politics. Hardly a day has passed without some major or minor scandal bursting out into the open. Mostly, these were caused by the revelations by the President Rumen Radev-appointed caretaker government of gross misdeeds committed by Boyko Borisov's GERB officials or by Boyko Borisov, this country strongman prime minister in 2009-2021, himself.

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WILL BOYKO BE GONE FOR GOOD?

Following the failure of Bulgaria's "short" parliament, which sat for less than a month, to fulfil its basic constitutional duty, form a functioning government, President Rumen Radev stepped in and appointed a caretaker administration. Though its main task is to organise the next general election, to be held on 11 July, the "caretaker" government is not as powerless as it seems. In fact, it can do everything a regular government is able to do save for actions – such as altering the state budget or concluding international treaties – that would require parliamentary approval.

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BULGARIA'S BALLOT SHOWDOWN

Most public opinion agencies got it wrong. Following a month of an exceptionally tepid (even in Bulgarian standards) election campaign, in which the coronavirus pandemic was hardly mentioned, Bulgarians went to the polls to elect their new parliament. The voter turnout was about 50 percent, which is about usual for Bulgarian elections. Bulgarians, contrary to what pollsters of all shapes and sizes had predicted, defied the coronavirus frenzy and went to cast their ballots in person, both in Bulgaria and abroad. They voted with their feet.

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TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE?

One of the topics debated in what was an exceptionally tepid election campaign was how Bulgarians abroad should be enabled to vote. Bulgarians, like the French and the Italians but unlike the Danes and the Irish, can vote in general elections regardless of their permanent place of abode.

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DESPITE GAME OF MUSICAL CHAIRS...

Some media try to represent the upcoming election as a titanic battle of a major anti-Communist, pro-democracy and pro-Western establishment (Boyko Borisov's GERB) and a renegade leftist party (BSP, or Bulgarian Socialist Party) that stems from the erstwhile Bulgarian Communist Party, the one that ruled Communist Bulgaria with an iron fist in 1944-1989. In fact, if opinion polls are anything to go by, GERB and BSP are almost equal in size, with the GERB sometimes emerging ahead by a few percentage points, and vice versa. Significantly, neither GERB nor the BSP are particularly large.

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BULGARIAN POLITICS OF HEALTH BELIE HEALTH OF POLITICS IN BULGARIA

Professor Kosta Kostov is one of Bulgaria's leading pulmonologists. He has specialised in Germany, Switzerland and the UK, and has taught for many years at the Medical Faculty of St Kliment of Ohrid University in Sofia. Earlier in 2020 he was the chairman of the Expert Medical Council under the Bulgarian Council of Ministers, a short-lived agency designed to provide the government with professional advice how to tackle the Covid-19 crisis. Dr Kostov has been in all Best Doctors lists in Bulgaria.

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ISSUE OF NORTH MACEDONIA

In Bulgaria, Winston Churchill (who held southeastern Europe in contempt) is sometimes quoted as saying the Balkans have more history than they are able to stomach. The 20th century offers many examples of internecine conflicts and wars anyone, not just the Balkans, would have found too difficult to come to terms with.

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MATTER OF NUMBERS

Six months after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the world into lockdowns and uncertainties, a fuller picture of its effect on the world economy is beginning to emerge. Bulgaria fared not too bad, according to recent statistical data.

According to Eurostat, in the second quarter of 2020 Bulgaria's GDP fell 9.8 percent in comparison to the same period of 2019. The result is better than in most of the EU, where average GDP fell by 14.4 percent and France experienced a decrease of 19 percent.

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