FORUM

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM GENERAL ELECTION 2024.0

As ballot counters concluded the relatively easy task of turning out the record-low number of votes in the 9 June general election, some unpleasant truths emerged. Politicians and analysts of all shades and hues will have to stomach them unless they want to consign themselves to the dustbin of history. Here are the most important ones.

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OPEN BUZLUDZHA 2024

The fourth iteration of the OPEN BUZLUDZHA festival is scheduled to kick off on 8 August and will last for three nights/four days. A plethora of local and international club scene bands will converge on the lawn beneath the controversial former Communist Party House Monument on Mount Buzludzha, informally referred to as the UFO. These include Wickeda, Hayes & Y, Kerana and the Cosmonauts, Two Cities One World, Funkilicious, Heptagram and others.

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BETWEEN THE FRYING PAN AND THE FIRE

Тhe overwhelming majority of Bulgarians who will go to the polls in June to elect their next National Assembly will do so with one all-pervasive sentiment. Disgust. They are disgusted at the incompetence and hypocrisy of the former rulers, the markedly pro-Western, liberal grouping of the CC-DB, or Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria. They are disgusted by the Monkey-See-Monkey-Do mentality of their pious followers, who like to introduce themselves as "smart and beautiful" intellectuals.

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IS RACISM IN BULGARIA ON THE RISE?

"We are fascists, we burn Arabs": the youngsters start chanting as soon as they emerge from the metro station and leave the perimeter of its security cameras. Their voices grow stronger with each step in the dark streets of the relatively central Sofia neighbourhood. Then they gradually disperse, still ecstatic after a protest provoked by an alleged attack by a group of Arab migrants on Bulgarian teens on Vitosha Boulevard.

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WHY DO SO MANY BULGARIANS LOVE RUSSIA?

In the 1990s and early 2000s Bulgaria, a former East bloc country, was an enthusiastic applicant to join both NATO and the EU. Twenty years later the initial enthusiasm has waned. There are now parties with sizeable, albeit still politically insignificant, support that demand a Bulgarexit, first from NATO and then from the EU. Their declared "love" for Russia is being echoed even by people who approve of NATO, the EU and the West in general.

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LIARS OR BEING LIED TO?

Тo understand the current predicament of the Changes Continued political party, one of whose leaders, Kiril Petkov, was prime minister in 2021-2022, one needs to consider the characteristically complicated background.

Kiril Petkov and his mate, Asen Vasilev, are both Harvard-educated economists who returned to Bulgaria and started their own businesses. Their ascend into politics was somewhat unexpected. They were put forward by... President Rumen Radev.

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TRAINING BULGARIA'S YOUTH HOW TO DEBATE

Оne of the (many) notable things Marcus Tullius Cicero said over 20 centuries ago is that "to live is to think" – and if we are not ashamed of what we think we should not be ashamed to voice it. His prophetic adages have a particular relevance in a world dominated by social networks, fake news and manipulative media where one of the most important things for every individual is to make their thoughts heard, loud and clear. And it is impossible to attain that unless you are trained to debate.

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WITH BOTH EUROS IN THE PAST

In spite of the protestations of the ruling "fixture" between PP-DB (Changes Continued of Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev and Democratic Bulgaria of Gen Atanas Atanasov and Hristo Ivanov) and Boyko Borisov's GERB about the "top national priority" of joining the euro zone, Bulgaria is still failing to handle the nuts and bolts. Its prospects to adopt the euro, notwithstanding its attempts of almost 15 years, are in the future.

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WHO IS AFRAID OF VASIL 'SKULL' BOZHKOV?

While Bulgarians left, right and centre are quibbling over the fate of a pile of stones crowned by some sculpted Red Army soldiers in central Sofia, the state prosecution service quietly terminated a case started by Vasil Bozhkov, one of this country's wealthiest entrepreneurs, alleging he was forced to give north of 60 million leva ($35 million) in bribes to Boyko Borisov (then prime minister), Vladislav Goranov (then finance minister) and Sevdelina Arnaudova (then Boyko Borisov's chief public relations officer).

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RUMOURS OF GERB'S DEMISE TURN OUT TO BE PREMATURE

Polling agencies got it wrong again

If the multitude of opinion polls were to be trusted, the election results would have been very different. The PP-DB (Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria), which currently runs the country through its coalition government with Boyko Borisov's GERB (which it insists is not a coalition but a "fixture") should have won Sofia hands down. It should have done a lot better in most bigger towns and cities as well.

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