Blogger Asen Genov terms the campaign for the parliamentary elections on 26 March “a flow of sewage”. Instead of discussing serious matters and problems related to the difficult internal and external contextswe deal with the age or origin of candidates running for MPs, or with the dispute between former PM Boyko Borissov and journalist and candidate for parliament Elena Yoncheva, the blogger remarks. In an election debate Yoncheva accused Gerb party of that its program for housing renovation and insulation was too expensive for taxpayers. The former premier and leader of Gerb retaliated by accusing Yoncheva of spending taxpayer money for her trips and documentaries abroad. Now in all likelihood the dispute between the two will be taken to court.
According to Asen Genov, the quality of election debates will improve tangibly in case practices in countries like Great Britain and Italy are introduced in Bulgaria. This would mean putting an end to paid formats of political media appearances.
„If legislation amendments are passed to ban paid political propaganda during election campaigning and generally in the media, this would be a healthy measure. This will in the first place eliminate the property qualification forpoorer parties who cannot pay for media appearances, do not take part in debates and have zero publicity. Secondly, such amendments will help improve the media environment. Journalists will be fully free to criticize parties. Thirdly, this will create stronger competition and will take politicians out of the comfort zone.”
What topics should have been central to this campaign but have failed to top the agenda?
„I see myself as someone with a tendency to rightwing views. I believe that central to debates should have been the dialogue about the limits of the state and its interference in the affairs of private businesses. For the time being the situation is unhealthy given that the biggest investments in this country actually come from European funding and public procurement”, Asen Genov says. “This is an important issue that should be discussed thoroughly. I believe that the more the state withdraws from influencing the business, the better. Enterprising people will become freer and this will improve the wellbeing of the nation.”
Do Bulgarian voters tend to analyze election vows and then demand their fulfillment from the political parties?
„Well, I think that an overwhelming majority of Bulgarian voters who go to the polls, go voting with serious mental reserves. They vote in a state of conflict between the external expression of will and their internal convictions. I mean that there is a mechanism that prevents Bulgarian voters from voting according to their conscience. Thus they simply vote for the lesser evil or follow the principle of clientelism for preserving the status quo.”
In the aftermath of the snap parliamentary elections on 26 March the scenario for Bulgaria is far from rosy, Asen Genov contends:
„I think that the situation from 2013 will repeat, when there was parity in parliament of 120:120 votes, and the so-called golden finger of Ataka party leader Volen Siderov was needed to offset this parity. This necessitated a sleazy political configuration in parliament in a bid to build a working majority. Most probably this time too, the situation will recur - if we should believe what pollsters report. In such a situation it will be almost impossible to form a parliamentary majority without monstrous compromise with political views and principles. It will produce an explosive mix. So I tend to believe that we will reenter the election situation very soon after the vote. It won't be surprising if by the end of the year we see serious tensions, protests and snap elections packaged in the invocation about the need for stability in view of the 2018 Bulgaria Presidency of the European Union. Caretaker governments are often criticized based on their limited legislative initiative and powers. However I do not think it will be a serious problem for Bulgaria if it is again governed by a caretaker administration-as you know former president Rosen Plevneliev appointed two caretaker cabinets, and now President Rumen Radev is likely to face once again the task of appointing a new caretaker government after the incumbent one goes into history.”
English Daniela Konstantinova
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