Demonstrations in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia on the night after Prime Minister Boiko Borissov announced the resignation of his government proceeded peacefully – in spite of their rivalry, one large group protesting that the stepping down of Borissov solved nothing, the other in support of him.
The night gatherings on February 20 2103 came hours after Borissov announced that he and his administration were stepping down, effectively triggering early elections, after protests the night before turned violent.
The constitutional ritual of offering to various political parties, in order of size, the chance to form an interim government was expected to produce only the inevitable conclusion of the formation of a technocrat government, in charge of the holding of ahead-of-term elections.
The head of state, President Rossen Plevneliev, who ultimately will be in charge of appointing an “expert” cabinet, issued a statement on February 20 calling for public protests to proceed peacefully and democratically, allowing the nation to find the best solutions.
Plevneliev’s statement came after the government resigned earlier in the day amid nationwide protests against high electricity and heating bills and low living standards, Bulgarian news agency BTA said.
Plevneliev was expected to address the nation on February 21 after Parliament, as it was expected to do, voted to approve the resignation of the government.
In Sofia, police turned out in force to carefully keep apart those who persisted in their protests from those who turned out in solidarity with Borissov.
Local media on the scene estimated that the “anti” protesters in Sofia numbered about 1000 – about half the turnout of the night before – while those in favour of Borissov numbered about 200 to 250.
The pro-Borissov camp, organised through social networks, chanted “we want our Boiko” along with slogans against ruling party GERB’s rivals grouped in the socialist, Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Bulgaria for Citzens parties.
Anti-government protesters, who vowed to continue their campaign irrespective of the resignation of the Borissov administration, chanted, “everybody out”.