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2013: Government in isolation

БНР Новини
Photo: library

2013 went down in the most modern history of Bulgaria as the year of protest. It was the protests that brought down the first GERB cabinet of PM Boyko Borissov, while the term of office of the bipartisan Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms government that was formed after the 12 May elections, kicked off with appointments that outraged the public.

The gridlock at the National Assembly where the ruling party, GERB, was just one vote short of opening regular parliamentary sessions and forming a new cabinet, gave birth to the metaphor of the “golden finger” – that of Ataka leader Volen Siderov.

“The Ataka vote that made this session of parliament today possible, is my vote. Because unlike the 97 GERB MPS sitting here, I am a responsible person. Dependable and responsible.”

Plamen Oresharski’s cabinet was voted by the MPs from the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms with the tacit consent of the nationalists. And the very first steps it undertook brought public discontent to boiling point over the underhand way decisions were being made - and people used the social media to organize protests.

One of the first decisions the government made on June 14 was for structural changes in the national security services – the General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDCOC) was taken out of the Interior Ministry and transferred to the State Agency for National Security (SANS). The election of MP Delyan Peevksi chair of the Agency and the fact that this took place without any debates whatsoever, shattered social peace and people poured into the streets of Sofia and other major cities. Bulgarians looked straight into the arrogant face of the people responsible for these under-the-table dealings, the people that were pulling the government’s strings and this closed public ranks for resistance as never before. The question: “Who suggested Peevski’s name?” was to become question of the year. Here is what one of the protesters said:

“What they were planning to do with this megastructure – GDCOC plus SANS – was a parallel ministry of the interior controlled by the oligarchy. What can the outcome be? So, this reaction is absolutely normal. These people who now think they are the government, they are incapable of governing, that is obvious. It is plain to see they cannot make their own decisions.”

The summer of 2013 was a hot one, not only because of the temperatures but because public discontent was running so high. July 23 will be remembered as “white bus night” and the siege the protesters laid to parliament building while discussions of a budget update were taking place inside. The police tried to break the siege with a white bus, sent there to rescue MPs and cabinet ministers from “the love of the nation”. Clashes followed and people were hurt. The siege continued into the early morning hours.

The holiday month, August came but still that was not the end of it for the cabinet ministers from the two-party coalition and the “golden finger”, supporting them in parliament. And even though most of them packed up and left for the government residences on the Black Sea coast, the protesters marched in their wake – this came to be known as the “Oresharski march”.

On October 22, 2013 a new protest got going, this time by students. The “Wake up!” students’ movement came into being, demanding a new morality in politics and the resignation of the government. On 12 November, parliament was once again besieged, this time by students coming from all parts of the country. And once again there was police brutality and people were hurt. “Resign!” and “You are a disgrace!” shouted the people surrounding parliament building.

Despite the unflagging street pressure and the unabated protests, the Oresharski cabinet stayed in power until 23 July, 2014 when, after 405 days, the prime minister tendered the resignation of his cabinet.

English version: Milena Daynova

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