Postcards From Bulgaria #1
Yes, that’s exactly what the Bulgarians that have been protesting in the streets of Sofia and other major cities for over four weeks now really want. Grasping this idea seems to be the key to understanding the current unrest in that country. There’s a deep desire to be emancipated from the inferno of the so-called transition; a capitalist restoration, in fact. They want to stop being the losers working for the wealth of a tiny group of winners at the top of an oligarchic system. Aggressive anti-communist ideology and the so-called reforms were actually a shock-doctrine-based neoliberal brutal disintegration of the economy, the society and the state.
“The Communists” have been the Boogeyman for the last three decades, so it comes as no surprise now that the Bulgarian PM Borissov, threatened by the protests, is orchestrating massive hysteria, crying that “the Communists are taking over” if he’s ousted. This is of course a lie. The majority of the demonstrating people claim that this is neither a right-wing nor a left-wing protest, but a protest of decent citizens against the mafia.
The main driving force of the protests has been the urban middle class, which is rather right-wing when it comes to their core political views. Even they are tired with “the transition” and the massive devastation that it has brought about. However, it seems to be the subconscious level of the political manifestations that we have been observing for the last month in Bulgaria. Nobody uses the word post-transition, although that seems to be the bottom line. There is a strong desire to leave this huge pathology of “the transition” behind.
Bulgarians demand change, but could this movement provide it? Will the urban middle class, a social group generally supportive of “the transition”, realize their dream of establishing a real liberal-democratic order in Bulgaria without the mafia, without the oligarchs, and without the rampant corruption and poverty? Or will it remain merely a dream? Are those who favored “the transition” capable of opposing its natural effects?
Vladimir Mitev is a Bulgarian-Romanian journalist based in Rousse, a town on the very border between the two countries. He is the editor-in-chief of the Romanian website BARICADA Romania, which initially started as a Romanian language version of the Bulgarian portal by the same name. He focuses on international politics. He has worked for the Bulgarian weekly “Tema” until its closure in 2015. He founded the bilingual Romanian-Bulgarian blog ”The Bridge of Friendship”. His articles and translations have been published by the BGNES agency, the magazines of A-specto and Economy, the blog of ”Solidary Bulgaria” and others. His articles and interviews have appeared in the Romanian magazines Decât o Revista, 22 and Q Magazine, in the Romanian cultural magazines of Vatra and Poesis, and in the Romanian left-wing portal Critic Atac. At present, he makes a Ph.D. research on new Iranian literature before the Islamic Revolution at the University of Sofia. Starting from June 2020 he develops in English, Romanian, Bulgarian and other languages the blog “The Persian bridge of Friendship”, which deals with the Persian-speaking world.