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A Dutchman’s view on the political situation in Bulgaria

Patrick Smithuis: Protests are good, but the question is what follows after them

Photo: facebook/Patrick Smithuis

If a million Bulgarians united around the main priorities for the development of their own country, professionals will emerge on the political stage to work for the cause "Bulgaria". Patrick Smithuis is from the Netherlands but has been living in Bulgaria since 1993 and has been involved in various socially significant causes. A month ago, he created the Svobodni movement, offering Bulgarians to support a petition with 10 points aimed at changing the political agenda.

The movement makes demands to the authorities, calling for "the most urgent actions which the survival of the Bulgarian people depends on." Among them are ensuring the protection of every citizen, making production of Bulgarian goods a priority, radical health-care reforms.

"This is an attempt to escape the closed circle in which we have been moving for 30 years," Patrick Smithuis has told BNR-Horizont. “Finally people have the word, not the politicians. I have been traveling in Bulgaria for five years, I have talked to literally thousands of experts from all branches of the economy and social life to find out how to get out of this situation. I have found out that Bulgarians have clear and specific demands. They are looking for justice, for ways to make a living without humiliation - human demands that are not on the agenda of politicians."

Bulgaria is suffering from a total crisis of confidence, Patrick Smithuis says. Therefore, when asked what he thinks about the anti-government protests, he answers that protests are good, but the question is what follows after them.

"Bulgaria's biggest problem is that in the next elections there is no one to vote for," he says. “This is because professionals who know how to lift the country up from the European bottom, in no way want to get involved in politics. So, we are waiting for new leaders, but they will not appear."

Patrick Smithuis expects the most catastrophic elections next year for this country. According to him, in the upcoming parliamentary vote, the parties will not form a single coalition and new elections will follow. But in the meantime, the good thing that could come out in the political sphere was the awakening of people who do not want to participate in government at the moment.

"People we don't see in politics right now don't want to be tied to the old parties," Patrick Smithuis says. “But even if a new small political project emerged, they would not join it, because in Bulgaria there is no second chance. If a person of value to society participated in a party that failed in the election, they would have no future in politics. We are currently in a very dangerous situation of the hen and the egg - we are waiting for some people to come, but they cannot come if we do not make the first step."

And this step, according to the Dutchman, is gathering of a huge public consensus on the fundamental demands of the "Svobodni" movement for a new future of the Bulgarian state.

"If there is one country that is able to be 100% independent, it is Bulgaria," he says. “We have land that can feed not only us but also half of Europe; the climate is favorable and there are natural resources. That is why I believe that if there was one place where people could survive in the conditions of a new, honest and working model, it would be Bulgaria, not the country I come from.”

Patrick Smithuis also says that he would participate in the upcoming elections only if he received the written support of a large number of people.

Editor: Diana Tsankova

English: Alexander Markov

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