Bulgarian President: ‘Resignations no longer a solution but an escape from responsibility’

Bulgarian President Roumen Radev has launched his latest scathing attack on Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government by saying that resignations were no longer a solution but an escape from responsibility.

Radev made the comment in a radio address on September 3, billed by his office as the eve of the new political season. Bulgaria’s National Assembly resumes on September 4, a day earlier than customary, to enable MPs to have a four-day weekend because September 6 is a public holiday.

Radev’s comment came against the background of the August 31 announcement that three of Borissov’s Cabinet ministers had submitted their resignations over the Svoge bus crash disaster almost a week earlier. In the crash, 17 people died and 21 were injured in what was the worst bus accident in Bulgaria for more than a decade.

While directly criticising the government, Radev also sought in the brief address to be seen to be criticising Bulgaria’s politicians as a whole. In office on a ticket that was backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, Radev is the subject of frequent complaints by the leadership of Borissov’s centre-right GERB party that he speaks solely in the interests of the BSP.

The country needed ideas but instead was presented with scandals, Radev said.

The problem in the state was not individuals but systemic, he said.

Authoritarianism was not the future of Bulgaria, Radev said. While it was not immediately apparent what he was referring to, his comment also came against a background of nationalist minority party leader Valeri Simeonov having accused, in recent days, Borissov of acting unilaterally in government without consulting his minority coalition partners.

Radev’s point that resignations amounted to evading responsibility also echoed the sentiments of Simeonov, who on September 2 and 3 said that Borissov fired people from government posts for the sake of his own personal approval rating, without a legitimate rationale for the dismissals.

Radev appeared to dismiss the idea of early parliamentary elections, saying that “a new election cycle in the future will not open up a new perspective”.

He called on the ruling coalition to “focus on the most pressing issues of society” – another sentiment not dissimilar to Simeonov’s complaint, which was that the changes of top office-bearers were impeding implementation of the governance programme.

Radev said that people expected, from the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition, an accelerated build-up of a convincing alternative to the current governance.

According to Radev, there were two systematic failures in present-day Bulgaria – injustice and corruption.

If the political class was unable to cope with the problems, then Bulgarians would be forced to find new ways to solve them.

“In dialogue and co-operation I will work with you to bring a new perspective for development,” Radev said.

His address came about an hour before the government coalition council was to meet to discuss changes to the Cabinet in the wake of the August 31 resignations. Given the complaints of Simeonov and tensions within government minority partner the United Patriots, the council was also expected to discuss the future of the governing coalition itself. Simeonov’s party has decided, for now, not to quit the governing coalition, but wants a change of style on the part of Borissov, and “genuine dialogue” in the coalition.

(Photo of Radev: president.bg)



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.