Widespread protests against the government continue in Bulgaria despite the resignation of three members of prime minister Boyko Borisov’s cabinet on July 23, Thursday. Protests have been going on for over two weeks demanding the resignation of the prime minister over corruption, abuse of power and nepotism. On Monday, the right-wing government survived a vote of no-confidence moved by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in the national assembly. However, this and the resignation of the ministers have not mollified the protesters who are demanding systematic change.
On Monday, while the parliament was debating the no-confidence motion, thousands of protestors from liberal and leftist working-class sections blocked the Bulgarian national assembly building.
The immediate trigger for the current protests was the government’s nepotistic support to alleged encroachments by Ahmed Dogan, a former leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). The office of the president of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, also responded against the government on this issue. In fact, Borisov’s government has always been at loggerheads with president Radev who was elected with the support of the BSP. The conflict between them escalated last week when chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev ordered raids on the president’s headquarters and the arrest of two of his aides, on charges of alleged influence peddling. Such a move was widely perceived as an attempt instigated by Borisov to intimidate the Bulgarian president.
In the wake of escalating protests and clashes, president Rumen Radev and BSP leader Kornelia Ninovahas have also demanded Borisov’s resignation. Forces from the left, including trade union activists and anti-fascism platforms, have actively participated in the protests. They have not only called for the ouster of the Borisov government, but also refused support to the primary opposition in the country which has also endorsed the same neo-liberal and anti-worker policies pushed by the European Union.
Regarding the ongoing protests, the Autonomous Workers’ Confederation (ARC) stated, “protests against Borisov in recent days have united almost all opposition political parties, and we see their representatives here on the street. At the same time, the current protests – as countless times before – have united all of us working people. We are the majority in this movement in the same way that we represent the majority of the people in a country ruled by an oligarchic and corrupt minority. We are the majority that has no representatives, unlike the minority that has many.”
“Beyond the short-term interests of political parties, which see the overthrow of Borisov as a shortcut to electoral victory and a new parliamentary configuration in the name of the minority, most of us are not here to support opposition forces. We are here to participate in the removal of the GERB-Patriots model from power, but also to find a way to initiate a broad, independent and, above all, extra-parliamentary front of working people in general,” the ARC added.
As per a baricada.org report by Nikolai Draganov on July 17, all progressive leftist sections in Bulgaria have demanded the resignation of the Borisov government, but also insisted on structural political change and not mere replacement with another political clique that will continue the anti-worker neo-liberal agenda.
Borisov heads a coalition of his conservative GERB party with the Bulgarian National Movement – National Front of Salvation (IMRO-NFSB) and Attack. In power since 2009, Borisov’s third term is scheduled to end in March next year. Borisov’s previous governments were also accused of corruption. According to a DW.com report, Borisov is himself currently being investigated by Spanish prosecutors over alleged participation in a money-laundering scheme.