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Populism Takes the Lead

by lukewarm Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 02:33:45 PM EST

This diary is a continuation of the topic started by Little L's On how populism in Bulgaria is different . It brings about some more recent information, which i think illustrates the current political situation in Bulgaria.

Recent sociological research shows that the current Sofia mayor Boyko Borisov is about to win stunning 47% of the vote even before his new party is created. As of now it is known that the name of the party will be "Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria", which abbreviated in Bulgarian (ГЕРБ) means "national emblem". If the order of the letters is not coincidental, the name might suggest that the party would probably be a populist "catch all" type, targeting simultaneously at the far right nationalist electorate and the pro-European integration voters.

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Communist Era Files

by lukewarm Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 06:40:36 PM EST

Those EuroTrib members who come from former Warsaw Pact countries are probably familiar with the debates about the future status of the classified Communist era files. Although I was only a child in the early 1990s and do not remember much of the communist years or the early period of transition to democracy in Bulgaria, I got interested in this issue because even now is often thrown in the public space , debated upon and left without a final decision times again.

The Bulgarian intelligence agency during communism was called "State Security" and has had functions similar to those of any of the notorious Soviet block agencies, such as the KGB or Stasi. Currently the agency's records containing information about former functionaries and their responsibilities are still kept closed , despite of strong public support for open access to the files.

The issue is important because, since all parties in the spectrum (except the extreme right) support a common aim - EU membership of the country, it emerges as one of the major political fault lines between them. Currently the right parties (the opposition) are supportive of declassification of "State Security" files, while the position of the government, as articulated recently by the PM Sergei Stanishev after a parliamentary enquiry about the future of the files is "no need to poke the past." This is not surprising, having in mind that the PM is elected from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which is the "reformed" successor of the former Bulgarian Communist Party.

Another interesting fact is that all major political formations had their shot at forming a government and ruling the country after 1989, however none of them fulfilled their strong initial "intention" to declassify the files. The political elite lacks the incentive or the mere courage to grant access to the files, probably because of the unpredictable outcome the move might have. The issue of the classified files seems like an old Communist era bomb that might explode in the hands of the ones who are trying to defuse it and they simply deal with it by avoiding it. The reason for the unwillingness to finish the job properly is in the unclear relation between past and present. The political elites in Bulgaria were formed literally overnight in the wake of the regime change and it is quite possible that people with compromised past to have found their place in the new state administration. In that sense, eventual declassification of the files possibly could inflict a serious blow even on the government that undertakes it.

Open access to the files of the former intelligence is vital for the achievement for truly transparent governance in Bulgaria, coming to terms with the communist past and suspension of all remaining connections with it. The country is about to become EU member quite soon and this has really to be the watershed that puts an end to the corrupt practices with roots in the past. I grew up in times where one could see the consequences of incompetence and inefficient rule every day. Whatever the classified files contain, it would at least help the society to better comprehend and examine the past or prevent old mistakes from happening again.

I would like to understand more about the experiences of people from states who had to deal with the same issue. What do you think??

At the end I want to stress on probably the most "tangible" operation of  "State Security" that will go down in history - the notorious poison umbrella murder of a Bulgarian dissident in London. The name of the Imbeciles & the Poison Umbrella summarizes it just perfectly. I hope no one offended plots anything against them because I like them.

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