ARBEIT MACHT FREI

by Stamen Manolov

As millions of Americans have come to understand, things can become pretty unpredictable whenever outgoing President Donald Trump is left alone with his smartphone.

Joke of the month 170.jpg

The tweeting machine is set in motion, slamming anyone the president for reasons that will probably remain a mystery forever considers a "hater" and a "loser."

The situation in Boyko Borisov's Bulgaria is essentially the same. There is a notable exception, however. As Twitter has not really caught on in this country its most powerful man and leader for over 11 years uses as his chief means of communication with the laity his smartphone – not to tweet but to get himself televised while driving around his Land Cruiser, "inspecting" asphalt roads in the process of being constructed.

In the annals of revelatory Boyko Borisov's videoed drives, his November outing in the company of this country's top medics, Health Minister Kostadin Angelov and the chief of Sofia's Pirogov emergency hospital Professor Asen Baltov, was particularly outstanding. In the midst of the severe Covid-19 crisis when sick people are being turned away from hospitals, general practitioners refuse to treat patients except by phone, it takes up to 10 hours for ambulances to arrive to pick up suffocating people and key medicines are in short supply in the pharmacies, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov immersed himself in unabashed self-praise for the "excellence" of the roads he considers his chief achievement while being prime minister. "Look at that," he repeatedly told the top medics. "Isn't it a beauty?"

The doctors nodded from the backseat and grudgingly agreed. Professor Baltov tried to explain doctors were treating 1,900 patients at the same time, but was interrupted by the prime minister: "Look, Baltov, aren't those road markings just superb?!"

You should heal people and send them back to the production lines as soon as possible, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov went on to say, because work makes you free. Yup, that's correct. Arbeit macht frei.

Some Facebook progressives were quick to slam what they saw as the Bulgarian prime minister's uncouth usage of extreme Nazi terminology, but the general public remained unperturbed. Boyko Borisov's preternatural gift for populism and self-aggrandisement, often at the expense of others, friends and foes alike, continues to toy with this country's attention just as it has since the 2000s when the man emerged on the public scene. Against this background covfefe looks like a very insignificant piece of cake indeed. 

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