President Roumen Radev has used the 29th anniversary of the beginning of the country’s transition to democracy to launch a swingeing attack on the government, saying that the foundations of Bulgarian democracy are critically endangered.
Radev staged the attack on the eve of November 10, the anniversary of the date in 1989 on which Bulgaria’s long-standing communist ruler Todor Zhivkov was forced out of power in an internal party coup. After that date, Bulgaria set out on the path to a multi-party system and a free market economy.
In a televised address to the nation, Radev – elected head of state on a ticket backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, lineal successor to the Bulgarian Communist Party – said that today “free thinking is punished. The familiar mechanisms of the party-state are revived. Democratic institutions are atrophying”.
“Decisions are taken in the dark, often alone. Lobbyism and corruption penetrate the entire system of government and make it arrogant, with no fear of sanction,” Radev said.
Laws were drafted increasingly frequently in the interests of business circles and lobbies, he said.
Bulgaria’s demographic collapse and emigration from the country were an assessment of the moral and social crisis in society that cannot be hidden behind modest growth rates, Radev said, in an implicit attack on the boast by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government of positive economic progress in recent years.
Freedom of speech was a memory of the past, according to Radev, who said that the Bulgarian media had abdicated from its role as a corrective.
Twenty-nine years ago, democratic changes began with a change at the top, he said.
“Today, democratic freedoms need broad, civic support. This requires character and effort. Every day, by every person,” Radev said, urging Bulgarians to together protect their civil and social rights.
(Photo collage, from left: Zhivkov, Radev, Borissov)