31 May, 2023
Interview for the Romanian tv channel Digi 24
The city of Sofia is named after the God’s Wisdom (source: Pixabay, CC0)

On 2 April 2023, the day of the parliamentary elections for the 49th Bulgarian Parliament, the Romanian TV channel Digi24 interviewed the editor of the Bridge of Friendship blog Vladimir Mitev. The Tv host Adrian Bucur asked what the chances are for the formation of a government after the elections, how important the topics of Russia and corruption are in public discourse and to what extent Bulgarians still believe in parties. 

The video was given to the Bridge of Friendship by Digi24 and can be seen here. It has subtitles in English.

Adrian Bucur: Good evening, Mr. Mitev!

Vladimir Mitev: Good evening! Good evening! Thank you for the invitation!

What do you think are the chances that after these elections your country will have a stable government or alliance?

Until recently there were no great expectations and there was talk that a political crisis was likely to drag on. But in the last week there have been more views and talk that something that will surprise some – a government between the two grand coalitions – may be possible. Of course, such a step will be unacceptable to some of their voters and must be done in some formula that is more easily accepted, such as a minority government or a European government under the European umbrella and so on.

I currently don’t know who to believe. We’ll have to see how the situation plays out after the election. Of course, the results of the two big coalitions will be similar. But I think that now the chances are better for a coalition than in the last elections on 2 October 2022, because, first of all, Bulgaria as a state is stagnating, the legislation is going slowly, there are different problems that arise because of this political crisis and, on the other hand, we see that several countries in our region are strengthening their relations with each other. In short, the eastern flank of NATO is being strengthened. And perhaps, under these circumstances, this ambiguity or vagueness about Bulgaria cannot continue for so long.

I understand, on the other hand, Mr. Mitev, beyond the fact that the Bulgarians are concerned about rising prices, inflation is also huge there. It’s even higher for us, for the Hungarians, but life in Bulgaria is not good at the moment. And yet Bulgarian politics has other concerns. It is divided into two main themes. One is the attitude towards Russia, with a huge scandal in recent months, and the other is the attitude towards corruption. What can you tell us about that?

Yes, these are big issues on the agenda of the middle class, the educated elite integrated into European and Western circles. I would say that Bulgaria, however, is bigger than these elites. And I can give you an example of why at first glance it may seem that there is a division on these issues, but it is more complex. The Petkov government, which was considered Euro-Atlantic, was actually an alliance including with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which is considered by many to be Russophile and a smaller party, which was populist as a tendency. I would say that there is a certain ambiguity in Bulgaria. It’s not only pure positions that matter in politics, but also the ability to bridge the gap between different political forces. And we will see if the Bulgarian political elite will manage to find a formula.

You have reasons to worry there, in Sofia, because this pro-Russian, and therefore extremist and populist, party is expected to enter Parliament. But I ask you something else, Mr Mitev – are Bulgarians disappointed with their politicians? I was looking at a relatively recent poll which said that less than 20 percent of Bulgarians trust parties. Are they going for the polls today?

Yes. Turnout is expected to be lower, but probably a bit higher than last election. At least that’s the way it was going until noon. However, the parties in Bulgaria are really in a crisis, because there is actually not much party life in the circles of these parties. Rather, there are leaders and cohorts of people who follow them or business interests that support these leaders. It is not the type of parties that exists in the European Union. Rather, we have politics with eastern tendencies, where it is important who is at the top, and that is probably one reason why people become tired of political talk that does not really solve anything. We see that there was also a lot of talk about anti-corruption, but nothing happened, even when Petkov was in government. So things are happening with difficulty.

How much it resembles our societies, Mr. Mitev, thank you very much! All the best and we are watching the outcome of the election there in Bulgaria.

Photo: screenshot from Digi24’s emission

Subscribe to the channel of the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” in YouTube, where a number of video and audio interviews are published! The blog can also be followed in Facebook and TwitterIts Telegram channel is here. And here is its Substack account.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: