Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)

Tough Times in Bulgaria

4 Comments

I’m not sure how much attention Bulgaria’s current political climate is receiving overseas, but here in the country it’s {obviously} the most important topic of the day.

About a week and a half ago, as protests were raging over rising electricity costs, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, resigned. With him went his entire cabinet, which left Bulgaria without a functioning government. A caretaker government is in the works, but so far, nothing (and no one) has been officially announced.

Since that day–February 20th–things have only gotten more heated. Protests continue across the country and many parts of downtown Sofia are affected daily as crowds gather and march on government offices and buildings.

Yesterday, March 3rd (Bulgaria’s Liberation Day), only saw more public protests and heated debates amidst shows of national pride and remembrance of Bulgarian national hero, Vasil Levski. The majority of Sofia’s downtown was blocked by thousands of protesters shouting through megaphones, marching with banners, and waving the Bulgarian flag. In addition to rising electricity costs, the most pressing issues include austerity measures, government corruption, poverty, and a lack of civilians in governmental positions.

While there have been little reports of damage or violence, it’s still a bit of a scary situation for a foreigner (such as myself) to find themselves in. Being married to a Bulgarian and learning more each day about the true nature of how things work here and what the current political policies are like, I cannot blame the citizens of this country for finally thinking that enough is enough. Everyone has a breaking point and it seems as if that point has come for this nation. With Bulgaria listed as the poorest country in the European Union, it is clear that there are major issues that need to be dealt with.

I am by no means an expert on this topic. I am an outsider looking in. I’m just watching and reading English-language news reports as things develop. However, I do feel invested in the outcome of this tumultuous time in Bulgaria as I am connected now, not only through marriage but through a deep love for the country and its people. My heart breaks for the citizens of Bulgaria who are so greatly affected by a cost of living that in no way lines up with average salaries and pensions. Change is inevitable because the country simply cannot carry on as it has been.

For those wondering, I do not feel unsafe or unwelcome in Bulgaria, quite the contrary. People are still as gracious and welcoming as ever, even in these shaky times. Everyone is just trying to live their lives, love their families, and get through each day as best they can.

Hope. I see a lot of hope for Bulgaria’s future. If there is any silver lining to these tough times, it’s that.

I’d love to start a dialogue on this topic and see what others think–both Bulgarians and expats–so please comment below. 

W.

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4 thoughts on “Tough Times in Bulgaria

  1. I have been following it as much as I can from here (Canada) and on FB from my friends in BG. Someone said a phrase that resonated with me, “There are no more heroes left”. I think this is so true. There seems to have been so much change in the last 23 years, everyone that came to power promising a better life and not delivering. Now things seems to be back to where they started and I feel that people have just lost hope. I have been reading and watching documentary material from the “changes” or the промените period right after the Fall of Communism trying to understand how it all started. I remember the hope in the air (I was in grade 8 then) and it saddens me to see how it turned out. It seems to me now there are only raw emotions left such as anger and apathy. Anyway, this is my observation, not so much of an opinion but what I am seeing from afar. I truly hope things turn for the better.

  2. Hi Whitney.

    It’s had little coverage here in the UK, except the fact the PM has stepped down, but I do follow the issue it through other channels. Nice to hear your view point. I think the Bulgarians approach is really empowering, they care about their rights and country and realise people and individuals make a difference. I am due to come to Sofia myself in April, so am pleased to here you feel safe. Please keep us updated with your balanced view (something we don’t always get here in the Uk) 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Jess. I thought more Bulgarians might comment on the issue (a large number of my readers are Bulgarian), but no one has so far. The power of the individual is definitely in full effect here. Best of luck on your travels to Sofia; it really is a great city with a lot to offer. -W.

  3. Wow I had no idea. The news here mentioned it. I hope things improve.

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