A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

by Minka Vazkresenska

Bulgaria's Socialists show that they haven't forgotten anything old, but have learned something new – how to make promo videos.

streetcar named desire bulgaria.jpg

When the Secretary of the Executive Bureau of the BSP stood in front of some 800 participants in the party's 47th Congress and read out a statement by President Georgi Parvanov, people learned the answer of an important question: against the background of a parliamentary decision condemning Fascism and Communism in equal measure, why wouldn't Bulgarian school kids learn about it in school?

The answer follows. According to Georgi Parvanov, "For over 115 years the BSP has a remarkable and permanent presence in this country's society and politics where it preserves the historical legacy and upholds democratic traditions."

Now imagine you are standing in the president's boots and try to see how Bulgaria's Communist Party has upheld the traditions of democracy during the past 115 years. The bombing of the Sveta Nedelya church in 1925, killing over 200 people, was not a Communist attack but a royalist conspiracy designed to smear the reputation of the Reds. The 9 September 1944 coup was not a coup but a "people's revolution," well, supported by Stalin. The political assassinations that ensued were neither political, nor assassinations. Their victims died in the process of resisting the "people's power's" gentle attempts to convince them of the virtues of Socialism. The Communists also confiscated property and works of art to save them from the sloppiness of their bourgeois owners. And don't forget the first public poll the Communists organised on 8 September 1946. 91.63 percent of the entire population went to the ballots, 95.63 percent of whom favoured getting rid of the monarchy and establishing a "people's" republic. Sounds democratic, doesn't it?!

The Socialist Party is not ashamed of its past and has no intention of letting go of it. The black-and-white promo video made for its 47th Congress and aired on most national television channels in the days before the actual congress shows Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev acting as a streetcar driver. The streetcar is old, with some signs in Bulgarian before the language reform the Communists implemented in 1945. Culture Minister Stefan Danailov jumps onto the tram, gasping for air. "It's not like it used to be, ah!" says the 42-year-old prime minister. "You are right, it isn't," says Danailov, and adds: "But the ideas and the dreams remain the same." The dialogue gets interrupted by the tram's only passenger, a retiree. "Sergey!" the man says fervently, "Both the ideas and the dreams are here!" – and he pats himself on the chest. The episode takes place against some background music obviously reminiscent of a 1960s propaganda soap in which Stefan Danailov, then an actor, starred.The funny thing, one might have thought, is that he is right.

 

 

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