FORUM

WHEN WILL WE CATCH UP WITH THE AMERICANS...?

Loosely picking on the tune of The Beatles's Let It Be, Kolev set it to Bulgarian verse. Its refrain ran like this: "When will we catch up with the Americans?"

Concert venues and town squares cheered on when Todor Kolev made his appearance. Audiences jumped up and intoned: "When shall we catch up with the Americans?" "When? When? When?..."

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A FEW MORE WEEKS OF BOYKO

Like so many other things in Bulgaria since 2009, it all started with the inimitable mixture of populism and demagoguery of this country's outgoing prime minister, Boyko Borisov. The current political crisis has its roots in Borisov's threat to resign in case his handpicked nominee for president, Tsetska Tsacheva, failed to win. Which she did in the November ballot, by an unprecedented margin in Bulgaria's presidential elections since the fall of Communism.

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IN AFTERMATH OF PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT

While he was in his heyday, Bulgaria's prime minister, Boyko Borisov, used to deride learned men and women by calling them "the guys wearing spectacles." Notoriously, he used to boast that in his lifetime he had read only one book, a Western story entitled Winnetou and written by a 19th century German writer, Karl May. He also used to woo workers protesting over their unpaid wages by assuring them that they were "simple folk" and because he himself was a "simple man" they would get together well.

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MYTHS TRIUMPH OVER COMMON SENSE

If Jung and Freud were to meet in Bulgaria and hold one of their notorious disputes, Jung would probably win: mythology would get the upper hand over analysis.

Notwithstanding the sometimes very complicated details of the daily twists and turns of Bulgarian politics under GERB, they can be summed up with what some Western commentators describe as Post-Truth Politics: a strongman leader at the top tells myths to his audiences and is then able to get away with it for a long, long time because voters are led by emotions rather than facts.

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NO VOTE, NO WOE

Less than a couple of months ahead of the presidential election scheduled for 6 November, the ruling GERB refuses to disclose who its nominees are for fear they might be put under pressure by uncompliant journalists and get asked the wrong set of questions. Read this again. You've got it right.

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WHAT DOES A BULGARIAN (PSEUDO)PATRIOT BELIEVE IN?

I believe in Bulgaria's history and Bulgaria's tourism.

I believe in Vanga and in Petar Danov. I believe that Mother Russia has always rescued us and goes on loving us.

I believe whatever Bozhidar Dimitrov says. I believe in Sozopol vampires, in the bones of St John the Baptist, in the pithole in Tsarichina, in the treasure of Valchan Voyvoda, in the tomb of Bastet in the Strandzha, in the new ruins, in the foam concrete fortresses, in the plastic dummies replacing destroyed monuments of culture because they stood in the way of organised tourism.

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NEW SETBACKS FOR BULGARIA'S DEMOCRACY

The Bulgarian parliament approved a draft counterterrorism bill meant to give wide-ranging powers to law enforcement. The bill will empower the army to be able to make arrests and assume policing functions. It would also grant the police rights to detain citizens, impound vehicles, destruct property, tap communications, impose surveillance on emails, listen in on phone calls and so on and so forth, acting only on suspicion and without any evidence.

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BULGARIA'S HURTING PRIDE

"In Bulgaria, there is no homophobia," reads the bold text of a poster near the Red Army monument in Central Sofia featuring two young men in an embrace against the backdrop of a Communist-era apartment block. A man in his 70s sits peacefully in the midst of the brightly-coloured youth, and holds a rainbow flag, while two teens perched on the monument kiss.

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