“YOR NOT do it for yourself… let’s unite, ”said Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Prime Minister, standing desperately in the snow shortly after the polls closed on April 4. Opinion polls had predicted that the man who dominated Bulgarian politics for more than a decade would lose some of his once-stellar support, but they didn’t predict he would do nearly as badly as he did. actually. Now Mr Borisov is busy suggesting the formation of a technocratic government, which he would presumably control, albeit behind the scenes.
Mr Borisov is clinging to power by his fingernails and will remain suspended for weeks as shocked party leaders who have come to parliament see if they can form a government. With 26% of the vote, his party will be the largest, but the vast majority of MPs from other parties have nothing in common – except that they hate him.
Bulgaria is the poorest country in EU, although its economy is a quarter bigger than it was when Mr Borisov first became Prime Minister in 2009. Then unemployment was a problem; now labor is scarce, not least because many Bulgarians have emigrated. Last year the country was rocked by months of protests from people fed up with decades of entrenched corruption, political interference in the justice system and arrogant oligarchs.
Mr Borisov, a burly former bodyguard, came to power promising to root out corruption. Now, says Dimitar Bechev, a political scientist, his “badass, commoner act is exhausted and he has come to symbolize all that is wrong in the country.” As scandal revolved around him and his party last year, photos leaked that appeared to show him in bed with a gun on his nightstand and € 500 ($ 595) notes in his drawer at half open. Mr Borisov said the footage had been manipulated.
Although these protests ultimately failed, the anger of the protesters has now translated into parliament in the form of three anti-Borisov parties. The bigger one is directed by Slavi Trifonov, talk show host and frontman of the Ku-Ku Band, a musical combo whose albums include “Rip off the head of the duck”. He refused to campaign in the elections. This strategy was crowned with success, explains Marin Lessenski, analyst, because “it allowed everyone to project their own expectations on them”.
Claiming to have symptoms of covid-19, Mr Trifonov has said nothing since his party came in second with 18%. His preferred political mode is criticism and protest, says Boriana Dimitrova, sociologist; he was probably shocked by the realization that his unexpected success means that he will now have to take some responsibility for the future of the country.
Ms Dimitrova predicts that forming a new government will prove impossible, in which case a new ballot is expected to take place in July, or that a short-lived technocratic government with a limited mandate backed by anti-Borisov parties will take the helm. until a new vote is called alongside a presidential election slated for October.
M. Lessenski is less certain. Mr Borisov has already been struck off, he says, and has already “proven himself to be a master tactician.” He believes Mr Borisov will try to gain support in parliament for a party that represents Bulgaria’s Turkish minority, as well as others who might somehow be persuaded to break away from their principles. anti-Borisov.
Over the next seven years, up to € 29 billion in EU funds are available to be disbursed. Knowing how it is spent, legitimately or not, could be “a huge incentive” to join a government. ■
This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the title “Bye-bye Boyko?”