April 18. 2024. 11:53

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Op-ed: The long silence before the bad end


Bulgaria’s election winners remain profoundly silent just over a day after election day ended, despite tradition dictating that the winner laughs loudly in front of the cameras and dances (preferably over the body of the defeated).

Things are very different this time: the political crisis in the country is so deep, and the red lines between the main parties are so thick that no one knows what to say publicly to Bulgarians, nor is there any desire to dance.

The GERB-SDS coalition of the former long-serving former-prime minister Boyko Borissov surprisingly won the elections by 2% over the pro-European coalition Change Continues – Democratic Bulgaria. The two political formations seem to have a lot in common – they are Euro-Atlantic, supporting entry into the Eurozone and providing arms aid to Ukraine. The only option for a stable government is a political marriage between them.

However, here the similarities and good opportunities end, and the past begins to speak for itself.

Borissov will never forgive ex-prime minister Kiril Petkov from Change Continues for arresting him precisely a year ago. Borissov was released only a few hours later by the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office. A day or two later, he was vigorously defended by the European People’s Party. But he will never forget the personal humiliation inflicted on him.

Borissov headed a security company in the turbulent 90s of the 20th century when life in Bulgaria was not worth much. At the time, Borissov guarded Bulgarian dictator Todor Zhivkov in the last days of his life when he was placed under house arrest at his villa in the town of Pravets.

Borissov grew up in an atmosphere that is nothing like the Brussels bubble but much more like a “The Godfather” scene.

When the former security guard became prime minister, probably the image of the arrested Zhivkov often appeared in his thoughts. Especially during the night he was arrested.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, Michael Corleone said.

After two years of a spiralling political crisis and five general elections, Bulgarians are tired and have less and less faith in the institutions. The prevailing sentiment in society is that politicians should finally do what is needed and form a stable government. The slogan “Government at any cost” is often heard because the growing anti-European vote for the pro-Russian “Revival” party is knocking on the door.

And right here, Borissov can get a chance for his revenge.

“At any cost” for Borissov does not mean the same as it means for Kiril Petkov. Most of Borissov’s voters would forgive him even a coalition with the Devil, as long as he provided them with the stability they enjoyed from 2010 to 2021.

The voters of Change continues-Democratic Bulgaria are not ready to forgive such a coalition. For them, Borissov is the Devil himself. The corruption legacy of GERB is the main reason for the existence of “Change Continues” and for the rise of Kiril Petkov’s star.

Western pressure and the fatigue of the political crisis of the Bulgarians could easily offer Borissov what he would not refuse – the possibility of a coalition that would end with the political death of the coalition between Change Continues-Democratic Bulgaria.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold”. Borissov can wait. If the trap doesn’t snap now, it might snap in the fall, when there could be parliamentary elections again along with the local elections.

Now Borissov is silent because it is better that no one sees that he may be happy. The others are silent because they probably have nothing to say.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)