CHANGED BUT NOT REFORMED

by Boyan Yordanov

Bulgaria's new/old government stands slim chances of successful reforms

Since the fall of Communism, no Bulgarian government has enforced major reforms before their term in office expired. The recent and unexpected reshuffle of ministers assures that this lack of improvement is set to continue, despite Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev's assurances of “significant structural and personal changes”. Only a week after the new appointments, he announced, “this is year zero”, and added that the preparation for the election campaign had begun.

The only logical new appointment was that of Meglena Plugchieva as the new deputy prime minister, in charge of monitoring and coordinating theEU funding. Plugchieva was a member of the BSP, or Bulgarian Socialist Party, between 1995 and 2001. She resigned to take on the role of agriculture and forests deputy minister under the administration of the former king, Simeon Saxe-Coburg. In November 2004, Plugchieva spent a four-year term as Bulgaria's ambassador to Germany, which supposedly aided Bulgaria's successful accession into the EU. Therefore, the reason her appointment seems the most rational is because Bulgaria is keen to disprove allegations that EU funds are being misused. This cynical view is shared by Aleksandar Bozhkov, former deputy prime minister and Institute for Economic Development co-chairman, who described her function as “the Bulgarian government's post box to the European Commission”.

The new interior minister has been in centre stage since the changes, especially after the scandal of Rumen Petkov's alleged links to organised crime. The appointment of Mihail Mikov, floor speaker for the leftwing Coalition for Bulgaria, came as a surprise, and was coined as “a business trip” by the opposition, considering Mikov's original job as a solicitor. In his previous line of work, he has had no experience of working in the problematic ministry, so his capability of ending police corruption is questionable. This unease was intensified when Mikov's first words in his new role were: “There is no mafia”.

Each ruling coalition party seems to have sacrificed at least one of their ministers. The defence minister, Veselin Bliznakov from the NDSV, or Simeon II National Movement, was replaced by his fellow party member, Nikolay Tsonev. Nobody could explain this seemingly unnecessary new appointment. However, in a stark conflict of interest, Tsonev recently commented that he has a 30 percent share in bread producer, Nilana, suppliers to the army for over two years. He announced thereafter that he would be leaving all companies he owned shares in to avoid further implications. Another contentious appointment was that of the new health minister, former Stara Zagora mayor, Dr Evgeniy Zhelev. He survived two bomb attacks during his term as a mayor and despite being a member of the BSP, stood as an independent candidate and lost the last local elections. His managerial skills have come under fire due to the hospital that he managed going bankrupt. It seems improbable that someone with his track record would successfully amend the dire Bulgarian health system.

Even the change of the agriculture minister, Nihat Kabil, caused suspicion. The choice of his replacement, Valeri Tsvetanov, who also hailed from the DPS, or Movement for Rights and Freedoms, confirms that this party will continue to control agricultural operations. The uniformed public agreement is that these five ministers are pointless replacements, and not one of them can be properly graced with the title of a true reformer.

  • COMMENTING RULES

    Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

    Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

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 weal

RUMOURS OF GERB'S DEMISE TURN OUT TO BE PREMATURE
Polling agencies got it wrong again

CHURCH OF DISCONTENT
Colourful and gilt-domed, looking like a toy, the St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker church in central Sofia is known to Bulgarians simply as the Russian Church.

PP-DB'S FALSE STARTS
Notwithstanding the amendments to the Constitution proposed by Nikolay Denkov's "fixture" (the word he uses to describe the government), several bits of legislation put forward by the rulers and quickly voted into law have raised eyebrows and prompted a sig

UPS & DOWNS OF BULGARIAN ANTISEMITISM
А crudely-cut cartoon circulating on social media shows Former Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi, who is Jewish, being held by two Nazi-clad soldiers. The text (in Bulgarian) reads: "If you don't want Russian gas, we will give you some of ours."

IT'S THE HISTORY, STUPID!
In 2013, when the Inland Revenue agency started a probe into alleged wrongdoing by then President Rosen Plevneliev, he famously excused himself: I am not a Martian. Plevneliev had been a minister for Boyko Borisov.

BYE-BYE, IVAN GESHEV
Three years after the event, the massive street protests that blocked the traffic in Central Sofia in the course of months, in 2020, seem to have achieved their original aims.
END OF 'MAFIA STATE'?
If anyone believed that the CC-DB, or Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria alliance, who lost the April election and are now the second largest party in the Bulgarian National Assembly, were serious in their declared and oft-repeated pledges they wanted to

WILL THE DISGUSTED EMBRACE THE DISGUSTING?
Despite the massive and apparently rather expensive advertising campaign, which involved TV, print, outdoor and plenty of Facebook, the Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) alliance lost the 2 April election.
LONG LIVE RED ARMY MONUMENT!
Whenever developed democracies hold a general election, at stake – usually – are pressing issues of the day. Oil, terrorism, immigration. Nuclear weapons. Abortion rights. Inflation. Climate change. The cost of living...

WHO IS WHO AND WHO WANTS WHAT IN THE UPCOMING BULGARIAN GENERAL ELECTION?
It was called by President Rumen Radev, who is now the de facto ruler of this country, acting through the caretaker governments he appoints, because the previous election, in October 2022, failed to produce any kind of political alignment that could form a
BYE-BYE, SCHENGEN
The Netherlands and Austria have decided not to endorse Bulgaria's acceptance in Schengen, the European system for police and legal cooperation that allows for passport-less travel between member states.