Towards the Bulgarian Elections: Can the Political Divide Be Bridged?

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General elections will be held in Bulgaria on October 2, 2022. The nation will hold elections for the fourth time in two years after failing to win the confidence vote in June 2022 as a result of the dissolution of the coalition government led by Kiril Petkov. The most significant variables affecting the voting pattern in the elections in Bulgaria, which joined the European Union (EU) in 2007, has been the country’s high degree of corruption and its inability to attain the desired level of income and prosperity.

Kiril Petkov’s political party We Continue the Change garnered the most votes in the November 2021 election with 25.7% of the vote and joined forces with other parties to create a coalition government in which Petkov was appointed Prime Minister. The elections were impacted by Petkov’s pledges to eradicate corruption, which were crucial to his victory.

At the same time, the fact that he has a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University has been seen as an element that highlights Petkov’s charismatic personality. Prior to the elections, the party We Continue the Change and the fact that it had well-educated members made the news regularly. The favorable perception that the media has also helped to establish has created the impression that with the top-notch education of their members, the party can be the best alternative to finding solutions to the problems in Bulgaria.

In December 2021, We Continue the Change came together with the political party There Is Such a People and the Bulgarian Socialist Party and formed a government. This government was able to stay in office until June 2022. Therefore, significant disagreements of opinion within the coalition parties led to a loss of confidence, and the government was fell as a result.

In the elections of November 2021, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), the majority of whose members are Turks, became the third party, surpassing the Bulgarian Socialist Party with 13% of the votes it received in the elections. Some Bulgarian nationalists were upset that the Bulgarian Socialist Party, one of the key players in Bulgarian politics, dropped to fourth place with fewer votes than the MRF.

The fact that Petkov is an unconditional supporter of NATO in the field of foreign policy has caused a reaction from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which has a traditionally pro-Russian stance. In particular, during the Ukrainian Crisis, Bulgaria’s refusal to pay for Russian gas in rubles caused Moscow to cut off gas shipments to the country. Even though some countries such as Germany has pled an “exceptional circumstance” to purchase a certain amount of Russian natural gas as an exemption from European Union (EU) sanctions and agreed to pay for natural gas in rubles, it is still not clear why Bulgaria, which is 90% dependent on Russia, made this decision.

Since joining the EU, Bulgaria has been attempting to join the Schengen area, however during the Petkov administration, this goal was also unfulfilled. The extent to which the actions of the government, which remained in office for a period of six months, were successful can be discussed considering the brevity of the period.

In the forecasts for the elections on October 2, 2022, there are predictions that the We Continue the Change Alliance may lose serious votes and that GERB, the party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, may emerge from the election as the leading party once again. In addition, there are analyses that these elections will not resolve the political division in the country. In other words, it is claimed that a party that can govern alone will not come out of these elections either.

With 166 centers, Turkey will open the most voting places out of the 755 that will be established abroad for the elections. It is stated that Turks who are citizens of Bulgaria can cast their votes via electronic or classic ballots.

As in every election, the aim of the Turks in these elections is the continuation of the representation of the MRF in the Bulgarian Parliament. Participation in elections will serve to build a stronger democracy and representation.

Securing minorities’ rights in Bulgaria, which is a member of the EU, and creating a minority policy that complies with European norms will surely help the nation’s democracy grow and lead to the creation of a more stable political system.