FACELESS PRESIDENT

by Anthony Georgieff; photography by BTA

Bulgaria's Rosen Plevneliev still fails to convince

rosen plevneliev_0.jpg

If we are to assume that Rosen Plevneliev won last year's presidential election in a free and fair ballot (a fact disputed by a number of organisations and observers who reported widespread fraud, buying of votes and a manipulative media environment), then we should be asking what he has achieved, or failed to achieve, in the five months he has been in office.

The answer, to put it succinctly, is nothing.

Apart from a few obvious blunders, such as calling the visiting Vaclav Klaus president of Poland ‒ or was it Czechoslovakia? ‒ Plevneliev, a quiet man who had said he was surprised when Boyko Borisov put forward his name for the presidency, has confined himself to the usual Bulgarian political gobbledygook. Sticking to empty commonplaces such as "Euro-Atlantic priorities," the need to "restore Bulgaria's statehood," and to "elevate the status of Bulgaria's culture," he has failed to address through words, much less in action, any issue of national significance.

The Bulgarians who did vote for Plevneliev in earnest back in 2011 did so for two main reasons. First, they wanted a breath of fresh air. Georgi Parvanov, a former stooge for the Communist-era State Security, who now openly vies for the leadership of his Bulgarian Socialist Party, had created a staid atmosphere of pomp and political kitsch where no new ideas could germinate.

Others hoped, even though Plevneliev was Boyko Borisov's personally selected candidate, that the relatively young engineer would be able to shake off the influence of his boss and start acting as a moral balance to his increasingly authoritarian style.

So far, the only visible thing Rosen Plevneliev has achieved is to relinquish control of some of the security services, previously under the mandate of the president, and return them to the command of Boyko Borisov, thus helping to make the leader of GERB ever more dominant. This is yet another sign that the prime minister and his clique are very serious about dominating the whole repressive mechanism of the state and making it available to themselves to use as they please.

When he rose to power, Rosen Plevneliev vowed that he would set up a number of public councils which would consult him on important issues such as security, the economy, culture, Bulgarians abroad and so on. The speed with which he set about the task once in office is at the least discouraging. None of the promised councils is yet operational or, if they are, their existence is kept under lock and key and no one, except possibly GERB's PRs, actually knows who their members are. The immensely long drawnout business of the relatively straightforward task of picking intelligent young professionals with integrity to formulate state policies for the president indicates that the president is either unable or unwilling to deliver.

The position of the Bulgarian president is, in terms of his Constitutional prerogatives, somewhat unique in Europe, in that he is perhaps the only directly elected head of state, in a first-past-the-post vote, who has very limited powers. Apart from having the right to veto legislation in some cases, which Rosen Plevneliev has so far not exercised, the president is the ceremonial supreme commander of the armed forces. These limited powers leave the Bulgarian president, whoever he might happen to be, with few options. He can be a moral authority, a corrective to what the government of the day may happen to be doing, and he can also appear at state dinners and engage in the sort of chalga politics that has gripped Bulgaria under Boyko Borisov.

Rosen Plevneliev has delivered nothing on the first.

The issues that he might address, directly or indirectly, include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • A state administration that is full of unprincipled, unqualified and corrupt officials;
  • Paradoxical and destructive actions that create an atmosphere of hopelessness and inaction;
  • Still-born reforms that create new problems instead of solving old ones;
  • Rising unemployment, especially amongst the young, that gives rise to the desire to emigrate and never return;
  • A severe economic crisis that, despite the protestations of the Boyko Borisov establishment, is actually getting worse;
  • An incredibly inefficient health care system;
  • Slow and selective justice;
  • Police brutality coupled with mutri-style arrogance; inefficiency in solving crimes;
  • A complete disregard for anyone else's rights;
  • Chalga everywhere, and the supreme rule of thick-necked mutri with their characteristic air of impunity;
  • A nation that has lost its desire to go forward and, as a result, votes with its feet.

After the announcement that Rosen Plevneliev had won the presidential election, Boyko Borisov famously said: "Whoever I had handpicked would have become president." If Plevneliev's actions so far are anything to go by, the prime minister may have been right.

  • 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

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.

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 pri

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...