Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Tough Times in Bulgaria

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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