Tag Archives: oresharski

Bulgaria election results: Borissov returns to power after 1.5-year break


Pity poor Bulgaria. It has the lowest GDP per capita of the entire European Union (around $7,300). It has lost over 19% of its population from its 1988 peak. It is now struggling through the latest European financial crisis with a series of revolving governments, low economic growth and an unemployment rate that today is still over 11%.bulgaria flag

So when Bulgarians voted on Sunday to elect yet another government, they did do so with the same kind of ennui that’s marked so many of the country’s recent, frequent elections and a sense of hopelessness as the country’s youngest, brightest minds look to Germany, London and elsewhere for work.

Boyko Borissov (pictured above), a former center-right prime minister between 2009 and May 2013, is set to return to the office he once held, following a technocratic, center-left government headed by former finance minister Plamen Oresharski that fell in August. Bulgaria has since been governed by another caretaker, Georgi Bliznashki, who warned that Bulgaria’s next government needs to be strong enough to carry through major reforms to pull the country out of its ‘post-communist swamp.’

Borissov is the leader of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB, Граждани за европейско развитие на България), and his main opponent is the Coalition for Bulgaria (Коалиция за България), which is essentially a wider version of the center-left. Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP, Българска социалистическа партия).

The Bulgarian Socialists won enough seats in the last election in May  to form a governing coalition with the  Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS, Движение за права и свободи), a liberal party that represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims.

Among the mounting problems that the government faced was the collapse of Bulgaria’s fourth-largest bank earlier this summer, Corporate Commercial Bank, which froze the accounts of 200,000 Bulgarians. Protests against the government last year failed to result in any substantive change.

This time around, however, they fell far lower, as GERB seemed headed to a clear victory. With just over 42% of the vote counted early Monday morning, GERB led by a margin of over two-to-one:


Bulgarians voted Sunday to elect all 240 members of the unicameral National Assembly (Народно събрание), and early results indicated that four new groups would enter the parliament, doubling  the number of parties from four to eight.

In fourth place, however, is a potential coalition partner for GERB, the Reformist Bloc (Реформаторски блок), formed in December 2013 as a liberal electoral bloc that, like GERB, lies on the center-right, that won attention in May’s European parliamentary elections when it won one of Bulgaria’s seats. Together, GERB and the Reformist bloc will hold nearly 45% of the seats in the National Assembly, depending on whether another small group, the Alternative for Bulgarian Development, remains above the 4% threshold needed for winning seats.

That means that Bulgaria’s next government is unlikely to be strong enough to effect the kind of massive reforms that could transform policy on a scale sufficient to stop the country’s economic, cultural and demographic hemorrhaging.  Continue reading Bulgaria election results: Borissov returns to power after 1.5-year break

How Miro Cerar rose to the top of Slovenian politics in four weeks


Slovenians on Sunday turned over their country’s government to Miro Cerar, a political neophyte that barely anyone outside (or even inside) Slovenia had ever heard of a year ago.slovenia

Cerar (pictured above), an attorney and law professor, and the son of an Olympic gymnast, formed the Stranka Mira Cerarja (SMC, Miro Cerar’s Party), barely a month ago. But that didn’t matter to Slovenians, and the SMC easily won the July 13 snap elections by a margin of 34.6% to 20.7% against the center-right center-right Slovenska demokratska stranka (SDS, Slovenian Democratic Party), whose leader, two-time prime minister Janez Janša, has been sentenced to two years in prison in relation to corruption charges. Cerar’s victory represents the strongest victory of any party in a Slovenian election since the return of Slovenian sovereignty in 1990.

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Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections follow the resignation two months ago of Alenka Bratušek, Slovenia’s first female prime minister, after just over a year in office. Bratušek’s center-left coalition government is the second government since Slovenia’s last elections in December 2011.

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RELATED: Bratušek, Slovenia’s first female prime minister, resigns

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Cerar will now likely command 36 seats in the 90-member, unicameral Državni zbor (National Assembly), forcing him to form a coalition government with any of a number of allies in a National Assembly that remains fragmented, despite the strength of Cerar’s  mandate.

Cerar’s success is in large part due to his novelty. He’s not tainted by the past six years of austerity or the past two decades of corruption that characterizes much of Slovenia’s political elite. He lies somewhat in the center or center-left of Slovenian politics, leaning right on the need for economic reform, but leaning left on the need for reconsidering some austerity-era policies that Cerar believes have harmed Slovenian growth. For example, he’s called into question several recent plans for privatizations, including the national telecommunications company and the corporation that run’s the national airport. Continue reading How Miro Cerar rose to the top of Slovenian politics in four weeks

Who is Plamen Oresharski?


The good news is that after months of uncertainty, Bulgaria has a new government.bulgaria flag

The bad news is that, in taking office, the new Bulgarian prime minister Plamen Oresharski warned his country that he wouldn’t make them rich and prosperous, but that he would work to ensure that over the course of his potentially four-year term in power, he would work to bring more hope and confidence that Bulgaria is ‘on the right track.’

Talk about lowering expectations.

After losing power in July 2009 just months after the global financial crisis, prime minister Sergei Stanishev and the center-left Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP, Българска социалистическа партия) and its allies triumphed in the parliamentary elections earlier this month over his successor, Boyko Borissov and the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB, Граждани за европейско развитие на България).

So within two election cycles, Bulgarians have swung from the left to the right and, having indicated their dissatisfaction with both, are turning to a modified center-left government, with Oresharski, a former finance minister leading a semi-technocratic government supported by the Bulgarian Socialists and the third-largest party in Bulgaria’s parliament, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS, Движение за права и свободи), a liberal party that represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims.

Oresharski served as finance minister in Stanishev’s previous government from 2005 to 2009 in a career that’s spanned working in Bulgaria’s finance ministry since the early 1990s.  As finance minister, he worked to lower the Bulgarian corporate tax rate to 10% in 2007 and then followed up with a flat-tax rate of 10% on all personal income in 2008.

As prime minister, Oresharski has appointed Petar Chobanov as his own finance minister.  Chobanov himself is not technically a member of the Bulgarian Socialists, though he led the finance ministry’s forecasting agency under Oresharski in the previous government.  Chobanov, like Oresharski, leans toward a conservative fiscal policy in a country that, unlike much of Europe, has a strong budgetary outlook — its public debt load is just around 18% of GDP.  Nonetheless, Bulgaria hasn’t escaped the stagnant economic conditions that have plagued the rest of Europe, with GDP growth of less than 2%, an unemployment rate of 12.6% as of spring 2013, and an aging, declining population that’s shrunk by nearly 1.5 million since the 1980s.  Bulgaria and its neighbor Romania remain the two poorest countries in the European Union.  Continue reading Who is Plamen Oresharski?