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General Election - 12 May 2013

Bulgaria's government resigned 20 February 2013 following violent protests fueled by outrage over rising energy prices blamed on foreign-controlled companies. Lawmakers voted on the resignation the following day. The Cabinet in the European Union's poorest country quit amid a wider debate in Europe about EU-demanded privatization of public utilities in member states. Prime Minister Boiko Borisov's government stepped down amid pressure from tens of thousands of protesting Bulgarians in cities across this Balkan nation of more than seven million people. Demonstrators shouted slogans such as "Mafia!" to vent their anger after the government raised electricity prices by 13 percent, in a country where average monthly wages hover around $480. Borisov's move was expected to lead to early elections in April or May 2013.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev on 12 March 2013 announced that Marin Raikov, a former deputy foreign minister and then ambassador to France, would serve until the election on May 12. "The tasks before the government are clear - to prevent the social and political crisis from turning into an economic one by chasing away investors and discouraging employers ... and to be a guarantor for free and democratic elections," President Plevneliev said.

Both right and left-wing parties in Bulgaria benefitted from voters' concerns about the impact of the financial crisis ahead of parliamentary elections on 12 May 2013. Parties on the right and left-wing in Bulgaria benefit from voters' concerns about the impact of the financial crisis. The two major parties, Prime Minister Borissov's right-wing GERB and the socialist BSP, avoided any comments on the populist slogans and promises of the protest leaders.

There was a growing acceptance of xenophobic views ahead of elections in May. When Bulgarians speak of "the Turks," they refer to the Turkish-speaking Muslim minority that accounts for 8 percent of the country's population. The Roma community is estimated to be roughly the same size. For populist parties such as the "Ataka" alliance, which is represented in both Bulgaria and the European Parliament, both groups are the enemy.

Bulgarias general election on May 12, 2013 failed to produce an outright winner, plunging the Balkan country into further political uncertainty. The center-right GERB party (which stands for Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria), headed by former Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, won the most votes, with around 31 percent. But this still falls well short of a majority in the 240-seat parliament. The other three parties currently represented in parliament have rejected outright joining a coalition with GERB or supporting a GERB government. Technocrat Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski took office in May 2013 after street protests over falling living standards and corruption led to the fall of the previous government led by the center-right GERB party and its then prime minister Boyko Borisov.

Fresh protests began in mid-June 2013 after the government appointed a powerful media magnate to the post of security chief. The decision was quickly reversed, but the protests persisted with demonstrators demanding fresh elections. The previous government was forced to resign in February following protests over poverty and corruption. The president of Bulgaria made an appeal for calm July 24, 2013, after more than 40 days of protests escalated as demonstrators blockaded parliament, trapping more than 100 people inside for more than seven hours. Protesters had been carrying out peaceful demonstrations in Bulgaria for five weeks. But overnight the situation escalated. Hundreds of protesters barricaded the parliament in Sofia, but anti-riot police finally broke up the barricade in the early hours of the morning.

Corruption has been here all the time. What is new is the economic crisis, which is what is behind the political unrest. Corruption is one symptom, mobilizing people to mobilize against government. Bulgaria is the Unions poorest country. Poverty had been made worse by the Europe-wide economic crisis. Bulgaria is not part of the European single currency and had not received the types of bailout packages awarded to other struggling economies, like Greece and Portugal.

Bulgaria's left-leaning cabinet survived a fifth no-confidence vote on 13 June 2014. But was likely to resign soon, opening the way for a fresh election. Technocrat Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski narrowly won the vote by 114-109, but on the condition set by his onetime allies - the ethnic Turkish minority MRF party and Socialists - that he resign and make way for a new election. Bulgaria's socialist-led government said 27 June 2014 the country's political parties had agreed an early election be held on October 5.

Bulgaria's central bank called for calm after rumors around leading finance houses. In late June runs on two major lenders that have raised concerns for the Balkan country's financial stability. The central bank has said there is a deliberate and systematic attempt to destabilise Bulgaria's banking system. Despite its political and economic woes, the International Monetary Fund and economists had praised the stability of Bulgaria's banking system and its solid state finances.

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Page last modified: 19-09-2016 20:07:42 ZULU