Legitimating Neoliberalism in times of crisis: The Bulgarian protests in 2013

by Georgi Medarov

The Bulgarian 2013 was marked by the largest protests since the 1990s. In February they were against austerity and high-electricity bills, toppling the center-right government praised by the EU for outstanding “stability”. It was a movement of hopelessness, triggered by the sheer impossibility to cover basic living costs. Initially protesters called for nationalization of foreign-owned electricity distribution companies, but soon denounced all parties and political representation as such. Next elections brought a wide-coalition, led by the ex-communist (now pro-business center-left) Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and backed by the liberal Movement for Rights and Liberties (DPS), supported by the Turkish minority, and the far right ATAKA (meaning Attack).

The new government claimed to be technocratic and BSP forgot its promises, for instance to displace the 10% flat tax with progressive taxation. It never challenged the austerity regime, neither did they question the authority of energy companies. BSP also pushed for hard core pro-business educational reform and for privatization of natural parks and water services. The immediate reason next protests round started in June was the appointment of a media mogul as a head of national security. Nonetheless, they never challenged business’ domination over politics in general and revived anti-communist slogans from the 1990s. Moreover, in the summer there were street riots in support of austerity after the government decided to increase deficit merely from one to two percent. Why is that?

Read the answer and the whole article on the website of Chronos Magazine