Bulgarian politics might be on the verge of systemic change
This is hardly good news for the country as it may lead to instability and turbulence
This article is part of K Quarterly # Issue 1 / November-January 2017. Contact us for subscription options on firstname.lastname@example.org
The upcoming presidential elections in Bulgaria could be the tipping point for a possible systemic change in the country’s politics. The election campaign signals a weakening of the pro-EU consensus and general slide towards national-populism. This is hardly good news for the country as it may lead to instability and turbulence.
Bulgaria will hold presidential elections on 6 November. Polls suggest there will be a run-off on 13 November, as none of the candidates is expected to win more than 50% of the vote in the first round. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that unless the nominee of the ruling GERB party, Tsetska Tsacheva, leads in the first round, he will resign to trigger early parliamentary elections.
If Mrs. Tsacheva wins though, Mr Borissov is expected to reshuffle the ruling coalition and strip the junior partner in the government coalition, the Reformist Bloc, of some of its power in the ministries. There are signals that GERB would seek deeper cooperation with the two far right nationalist forces in parliament, the Patriotic Front coalition and Attack party.
In addition to electing a new head of state, on 6 November Bulgarians will also vote in a national referendum initiated by TV host and music star Slavi Trifonov. The three questions that will be asked refer to state subsidies to parties, whether members of parliament should be chosen by a simple majority, and if voting in elections and referenda should be compulsory.
The agreement that formed the Reformist Bloc will expire by the end of the year. It is too early to say what the five constituent parties will decide but one of them, Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, is already considering pulling out. Its leader Radan Kanev is undertaking a nationwide tour to present his ideas, presumably in preparation for a new political project.
The selection of Ivan Geshev as the next Prosecutor General will likely go unopposed, triggering seven more wasted years on the anti-corruption front and even more blatant institutional abuse of power.
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