Property prices in Bulgaria will continue to fall, experts say, but it is difficult to predict whether the downward trend will be gradual or whether the property market will crash like it did in 2009. In Sofia, the average price of residential property is 40 percent lower than in 2008, as buyers now typically pay 700-750 euros per square metre. The majority of properties are bought by first-time buyers, usually young families, who take out mortgages to buy small flats. Russians continue to be the chief purchasers of holiday properties.
The citizens' sentiments are reflected by what businesses think 2012 will bring. A survey by the Bulgarian Industrial Association established that 71 percent of the 500 business managers interviewed expect a deepening crisis in 2012. A percentage point less, 70 percent, said the business climate in 2011 was worse than in 2010. The gloominess is exacerbated by worsening rates of overdue debt, continuing need for skilled labour, bad work ethics, falling sales and the view that the government's anti-crisis policies, if any, have been "unsuccessful."
Just 7 percent said they say "improvements" in 2011, while 50 percents aid their companies performance had deteriorated. A quarter said they had to restructure their debts, and 8e percent said money owed to them was in arrears.
One in three said they would reduce staff further in 2012.
So how does Boyko Borisov's government fare in light of the gloomy economic forecasts for 2012?
Interestingly, it continues to enjoy the support of 20-28 percent of those Bulgarians who are otherwise very unhappy with their economic plight.
Bulgarians tend to trust the army (29 percent) and the Bulgarian National Bank (25 percent). Approval for Tsvetan Tsvetanov's police has fallen by 10 percent in a year – probably the result of the numerous botched police operations that as a rule fail to produce any meaningful prosecutions. The courts and the judicial system continue to be hugely unpopular. Sadly for a young democracy such as Bulgaria, just 8 percent trust the parliamentary institution.
The absence of a credible political opposition and independent media, coupled with the increasing manifestation of a dangerous Russian-style concentration of political and economic power, means GERB is likely to continue to dominate Bulgarian political life in 2012.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers