Protests in Bulgaria turn violent

Riots broke out during protests against the Bulgarian government in Sofia on Wednesday. More than 120 demonstrators were arrested and at least 60 people were injured. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had offered to have his government resign in reaction to the protests, but so far he has not made good. Is escalation imminent?

Open/close all quotes (BG) /

Borisov putting human lives at risk

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov should resign to avoid putting people's lives at risk, demands:

“How high must the price for staying in power be? All the people are asking for is new elections, and as soon as possible. None of those in power, not even Borisov, can rule out the possibility that people could lose their lives in the protests. ... Yet the solution is so simple and could be put into practice at the drop of a hat: resign! In any event resignation can no longer be avoided - it's just a matter of days. The time has come to think about how to avoid the worst. Otherwise we could soon pay the highest price: the loss of human lives.”

Sega (BG) /

Only the masses can really make a difference

Rioting leads nowhere because the protests can only be successful if they're supported by a broad consensus, Sega warns:

“For several weeks the protests dragged on but the number of demonstrators dwindled. ... No matter how many activists gather on the square, little will be achieved. Because what counts with such demonstrations is the support of the masses. The people must 'take to the streets' and clearly side with the activists. ... At the beginning of the protests, when the square was full of creative young people, it looked like this was going to happen, but they didn't stay. On Wednesday efforts were made to revive the protest. ... But it will remain unsuccessful until at least a quarter of a million Bulgarians actively support it.”

Sega (BG) /

A clientelist move

The changes to the constitution are an idea that Borisov's large retinue, which fears his resignation more than he does himself, has come up with, Sega explains:

“They know for sure that he is ready to take such a step - he has already resigned [twice] and is prepared to do so again, for retreating does not automatically mean losing the upcoming elections. However, one should keep in mind the huge army of party members and all those whose position hinges on the [GERB] party; the huge number of civil servants (no less than 433,000) who depend on it, the whole food chain that has formed on the basis of the status quo. It is these people who cry 'No!' every time a resignation is announced. ... They give Borisov the opportunity to say: 'Look, the people want me, I'm staying.'”

Deutsche Welle (BG) /

Change is impossible under Borisov

The Prime Minister's announcements are merely diversionary tactics, says Deutsche Welle's Bulgarian service:

“Boyko Borisov, the guarantor of the status quo, wants to make Bulgarian society believe he is the guarantor of a new start of the system. That is like a card that says on one side: 'The statement on the other side is true.' ... But when you turn the card over, you read: 'The statement on the other side is a lie.' Whatever Borisov promises, the protests are gaining momentum. Nurses joined them yesterday as well. And regarding the Prime Minister's promise to present a new constitution: does anyone really believe that [Borisov's party] Gerb and the rule of law are compatible?”