Variable Bulgarian weather: “To a crazy ship, all winds are contrary”*

Boris Borisov faces which way

Was that 'yes' or 'no'?

Over the past few days, the wind has blown (strongly) from the east, and then, suddenly, from the west. Or should that be the other way round? And I’m not speaking of the weather.

Within the space of 24 hours, Bulgaria’s esteemed Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, had dismissed the idea of ‘his’ political party needing to install their politically-aligned candidate as President, only to confirm the ‘need’ for such a person, after all.

Borisov leads the GERB (centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) party, which has been in power for almost two years. On Thursday, he was reported as saying on TV, in light of the forthcoming Bulgarian presidential election, that: “GERB does not need to have the presidential post; it would be too much for us; we have the PM one, the ones of the Speaker of the Parliament and of regional governors.”

Later that same evening, he spoke out in the city of Ruse: “The presidential post is important for GERB, and we will apply all effort to have a dignified and strong nomination.”

This is by no means the first time Borisov has issued contradictory statements within a short space of time. But, by now, he faces a considerable drop in his popularity ratings (down to 35%, with the same percentage opposing him), and his parliamentary opposition opponents are intent on mounting yet another no-confidence vote in his government – one that has become predominantly personal.

Sergei Stanishev, leader of the socialist opposition party, BCP, made this quite clear: “You do not care either for the constitution or the laws, you behave as if you own the state. Do not be surprised if every no-confidence vote submitted by the opposition is a vote against the prime minister,” he said in the National Assembly on Friday.

The beleaguered Bulgarian voter has been subjected since mid-2009 to a barrage of conflicting news and opinions on important issues, such as general taxes, retirement age, pensions, health contributions, education cuts, and a series of inconsistent statements on energy projects, along with equally consistent (sometimes deserved) condemnation of the failings of the previous (Stanishev) government.

Further, Borisov caused consternation across the voter spectrum several months ago by appearing to extol the last Communist leader, Todor Zhivkov, declaring that: “to reach one hundredth of what Zhivkov built in Bulgaria and what he did during his years as leader; to reach the economic growth of the then State would be a huge success for any government.”

Watching the old-fashioned, daily diet of sycophantic national TV news coverage of Borisov cutting celebratory ribbons, opening sports centres and over-budget bypasses, making fatuous statements, dismissing reporters’ timid questions (with one notable exception earlier this week!), sacking officials, failing to explain his relationship with Lukoil and its Russian representative in Bulgaria… the list is endless. Oh, and he’s openly said that he admires ‘Bunga-bunga’ Berlusconi, who has recently lost local elections and currently faces a number of criminal charges!

Seriously, less than two years ago, Bulgaria voted for what it was promised as pro-European norms, comprehensive reforms, a cleansing of corruption, an enhanced standard of living, a truly democratic solution to its problems.

What it seems to have been landed with, yet again, is a megalomaniac dictator, who changes his mind as fast as his T-shirts.

“In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve”:
Alexis de Tocqueville;

“A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache”:
Catherine the Great;

*“To a crazy ship, all winds are contrary”:
George Herbert.

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