Boyko Borisov

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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DID BOYKO DRIVE AN ILLEGAL JEEP?

Dignitaries, ministers and even foreign guests were "invited" into the jeep while the Bulgarian prime minster went for a government-provided ride. The video clips were then circulated on social media, attracting a huge number of clicks by both supporters and critics. Eagle-eyed Bulgarians, however, noted there was something wrong with the former prime minister's jeep. Oddly, its number plate was identical to the number plate of an Audi which also belonged to Boyko Borisov's retinue.

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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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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

Transparent elections will be possible only if Borisov's shadow state is dismantled.

Atanas Atanasov, Democrats for Strong Bulgaria

The criteria are problematic and should be revised. We are trying to create mechanisms to prevent this from happening in the future.

Atanas Pekanov, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister on the plan for Bulgaria's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic prepared by Boyko Borisov's government

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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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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

GERB are tired of ruling and the people are tired of being ruled by GERB.

Mihail Mikov, MP from BSP

Your mission is to revive parliamentary democracy in this country.

President Rumen Radev addresses the new parliament

PCR tests should be much cheaper, but this is what you get when healthcare becomes a business.

Professor Todor Kantardzhiev

We have ordered enough vaccines for two Bulgarias.

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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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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

No idea what the prime minister meant. Development of a Bulgarian Covid-19 vaccine is in its early stages.

Dr Angel Kunchev, Chief Health Inspector

A large facility indeed, but it will make veterinary vaccines... that have nothing to do with Covid-19.

Academic Bogdan Petrunov, immunologist

In Bulgaria freedom of speech is so free (sic) that it is incomparable to that in other countries.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

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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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LONG LIVE BOYKO BORISOV!

The picture, in oil, executed in the best (or worst) traditions of late Socialist Realism was immediately picked up by social media users. They were quick to come up with their own variants, ridiculing Bulgaria's Borisov whose authoritarian methods they claim increasingly resemble those of his Communist-era predecessors.

The Bulgarian Council of Ministers sent out a press release that the picture in question was one of a series of artworks commissioned by Arkad Engineering & Construction, the Saudi Arabian contractor for the pipeline project.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

The peak of the pandmeic will come just ahead of the 4 April general election.

Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev

The prime minister is a man who puts down all fires in Bulgaria.

Nasko Sirakov, owner of Levski football club, on his request for state funding of new construction on the club's stadium

The world looks different when one's onboard Boyko Borisov's 4WD.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

In the implementation of the Covid-19 measures you will see the total power of the state.

Health Minister Kostadin Angelov

They marked the 40th anniversary of dictator Tito's death. It's as if Berlin were to mark the anniversary of Hitler's expiry.

Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva in an attempt to explain Bulgaria's suspension of North Macedonia's bid to join the EU

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

I am so powerful I can stand in for a snow plough.

Heavyweight boxer Kubrat Pulev before his 12 December match with Anthony Joshua

In short, I am a patriotic Christian Socialist.

Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev

The (North) Macedonians' megalomania is a proof of their Bulgarian origin.

Professor of history Andrey Pantev 

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

"If they dislike Boyko Borisov's highways and underground, let them walk."

GERB Speaker of Parliament Tsveta Karayancheva

"Many journalists believe that they should be untouchable."

Betina Zhoteva, chairwoman of the Electronic Media Council

"GERB consists of women only. Even the few men in the party are women."

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on equality

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

The danger comes when a sheep flock decides to become a wolf pack. Then comes the time for the shepherd to raise his stick and force the flock back into the pen.

Valentin Kasabov, MP for National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria, about the antigovernment protests

Borisov behaves like a karate player at a chess game. You move the figures and he kicks the board.

Slavi Trifonov, TV anchor and leader of the There is Such a People party

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CAUSE WITHOUT REBELS

Things in Bulgaria are rarely what they seem to be, but of course there are exceptions. Look at Boyko Borisov's government and his most loyal GERB-ers. Look at the pictures of the prime minister sleeping across his bed, wads of 500-euro bills in his bedside drawer and a gun positioned by his head.

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LIBERAL DEMOCRACY SUSTAINS FURTHER BLOWS IN BOYKO BORISOV'S BULGARIA

Yet few expected something as dramatic as that: iPhone snaps of a half-naked prime minister sleeping across his bed, a bedside cupboard full of wads of 500-euro bills. Plus several gold ingots. Plus his favourite gun positioned on top. The images, anonymously sent to several media and subsequently widely circulated to the general public, might have befitted an underworld boss after an orgy of booze, sex and gambling rather than the prime minister of an EU member state. But photos do not lie. Welcome to the bedroom of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

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