Bulgaria. According to Countryaah, violent demonstrations were held in several parts of the country in September, triggered by a car accident in which a 19-year-old was killed by a relative of a known mafia boss. The protesters incited the country’s Roma, as the family in question was Roman. The extreme right demanded the reintroduction of the death penalty and the demolition of Roma “ghettos”. The president called for a halt to hate speech, and the National Security Council met because of the unrest.
In the October presidential election, the ruling right-wing party defeated GERB’s candidate Rosen Plevneliev. In the second round, he won over Socialist Ivailo Kalfin with close to 55% of the vote. GERB was also successful in the municipal elections held simultaneously.
The electoral authorities were criticized for poor organization and information on voting was available. Bulgaria was prevented from joining the Schengen Passport Union, despite all conditions being met and despite the European Commission’s praise for progress in the fight against corruption and organized crime. France and Germany were among the countries that refused, citing a lack of legal certainty.
In September 2011, GERB made the construction matador and Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Rosen Plevneliev, as his candidate for the presidential post. Plevneliev got 40.1% of the vote in the first round, and in the second round he beat Social Democrat Ivaylo Kalfin by 52.6% against 47.4%. In the second round, turnout reached 48.3%. The election was marked by fraud in the vote count and OSCE observers further noted that the media had unilaterally been on Plevneliev’s side. He was deployed to the presidential post in January 2012.
Discrimination against Roma is widespread. The European Court of Human Rights handed down several rulings in 2012 that went against the state. Among other things. Sofia’s mayor demolished several Roma neighborhoods on the grounds that they were built illegally – even though they had existed for over 70 years.
In January 2013, protests and demonstrations erupted across the country against the high prices of electricity and hot water. The government had privatized the electricity supply in 2005 and it slowly led to ever higher prices. The protests started on January 28, 2013 in the city of Blagoevgrad, where residents received electricity bills twice as high as the previous month. It caused them to symbolically burn them in protest. Over the course of a few days, the protests spread throughout the country. By mid-February, over 100,000 were demonstrating across the country, resulting in violent clashes with police. On February 20, the right-wing GERB government filed its resignation petition and parliamentary elections were speeded up. The election was held in May and was a staggering defeat for Boyko Borisov’s conservative GERB, which went back 9.2% to 30.5%. Yet it was still the largest party, even though the Social Democracy rose 8.9% to 26.6%. The turnout was only 51.3% and reflected deep voter dissatisfaction with the incumbent politicians, corruption and fraud. The day before the election, 350,000 additional ballots were discovered to be used for scams.
GERB initially tried to form a new government, but had to give up after a few weeks as it could not obtain a majority. Instead, the social democracy got the BSP assignment. Former Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski a few weeks later formed a government with the backing of the Social Democracy and the Muslim Liberal DSP.
The Conservative opposition tried to copy the popular movement from the spring and conducted demonstrations against the Oresharski government. It had some success at first when it espoused ethnic-racist strings and objected to the appointment of Turkish-Bulgarian Delyan Peevski as head of Bulgaria’s intelligence service DANS. Some thousands attended these demonstrations. The government decided the month after removing Peevski, and then the Conservative opposition demonstrations drew only a few hundred protesters despite support from the United States and France. The demands of the conservative protesters were the departure of the government.
In late 2013, the flow of refugees from the civil war in Syria increased sharply. By the end of August, there were 4,500 refugees from Syria in the country, but authorities expected that figure to reach 10,000 by the end of the year. The government therefore asked the EU to contribute to handling the refugee flow. However, there were still far up to the DKK 2 million. Jordan had accepted. In late 2013, right-wing and racist groups began fishing in agitated waters by assaulting and punching asylum seekers. Despite widespread protests from international human rights organizations, in April 2014, the government launched a so-called “containment plan” which was to summarily expel all arriving Syrian refugees to the country they had come from.
The European Parliament elections in May 2014 saw little progress for the GERB Conservative opposition. Despite the slight threat, it crackled internally in the government and two months later Oresharski filed his resignation request. Georgi Bliznashki was named interim prime minister.
Right-wing parties and groups held a demonstration in September against the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) under the main slogan “Let’s ban BHC”. The demonstration threatened in front of the BHC’s office to lynch its members or “cluster them up”. Despite the nature of the demonstration, the police had deployed only 4 policemen who remained low profile throughout the demonstration.