Elections: Bulgarian parties did not play Macedonia

Bulgaria elections EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV

If a political government is not formed, the radical messages will continue, but even a technical government appointed by Radev would not deviate from the agreement that Bulgaria would not block our negotiations with the EU, if the constitutional amendments are ours, says university professor Vasko Naumovski.

With an image of a country with many problems, the poorest in the European Union, with an inefficient economy and with widespread corruption that has become the social norm, Bulgaria goes to new early parliamentary elections on Sunday, the fifth in a row in two years, in an attempt to stabilize both political and economic.

Public opinion polls show that it is almost impossible for one party or electoral coalition to win power, so it is certain that post-election coalitions will be used if one really wants to reach a stable political government. And the latest survey by the "Alpha Research" agency does not show a clear winner in the upcoming elections. The survey was conducted in the period from March 25 to 29, and the data is devastating that a high 48 percent of the citizens said that they will certainly not vote on Sunday, compared to 39 who will vote.

The journalist Marinela Velichkova, a correspondent of the BTA agency from Skopje, told "Sloboden Pechat" that the formation of a government in Bulgaria after Sunday's elections will largely depend on the turnout and on how many parties will enter the new Parliament. The latest polls show that five political forces will surely enter the Parliament: the coalition We continue with the change - Democratic Bulgaria, GERB, Prerodba, DPS and BSP. Close to the 4 percent threshold for entry into the Parliament are the former Technical Prime Minister Stefan Janev's Bulgarian Rise, the newly formed Left party, which includes former members of the BSP, disappointed by the politics of the current president, Kornelia Ninova, and Slavi Trifonov's Ima taci narod.

According to Velichkova, the lower turnout allows more parties to enter the Parliament, and the "parliamentary mathematics" for forming a government depends to a large extent on that. But the turnout figure of 39 percent, almost the same as in the elections in October last year, also means unpredictability of the results. The survey by "Alpha Research" shows very close results between GERB-SDS (25,9%) and the coalition We continue with the change - Democratic Bulgaria (25,4%). The greatest growth was observed in the Revival party of Kostadin Kostadinov, which with a projected 13,6% of the votes could become the third political force in the country, and the views of the party, as Velichkova clarifies, are seriously opposite to those of the other parties. This means that Prerodba is against NATO, against entry into the Eurozone, and within that campaign they say that they collected over 500.000 signatures to request a referendum on these issues, to lift sanctions against Russia and to renegotiate the country's membership in the EU.

- Accordingly, the formation of a government even after these elections will be difficult and it is highly likely that the support of three political forces will be needed to form it. But even if it is formed, its stability is extremely important, taking into account the experience with Kiril Petkov's government, which had a life of only eight months - Velichkova told us.

Is an unprecedented coalition possible?

University professor Vasko Naumovski, on the other hand, comments that according to the public opinion survey, no drastic change can be observed in relation to the mood of the Bulgarian voters, and the only difference in these elections is the coalition of the two so-called pro-European parties that previously performed separately. Their coalition will probably contribute to them having the most votes and winning the first place before GERB of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, which won the most votes last time.

- However, forming a government will be a difficult task, especially if you take into account the animosity between the parties that exists there and the number of deputies that they will win. Most likely, those parties that had the most radical positions on the issue of Macedonia will drop out, and one of them is not participating in the elections at all, the party of former Defense Minister Karakachanov and MEP Dzambaski - Naumovski says in a statement to "Sloboden Pechat".

In this situation, according to him, it is quite possible for Bulgaria to continue in this state of technical government that is in favor of President Radev, taking into account the powers given by the Bulgarian constitution. This means that Radev will be the main political actor in the eventual appointment of the new interim government. And if that position continues, it is very likely that early elections will be held again at the end of this year or at the beginning of the next year.

- The only scenario that would enable the formation of a stable political government is the formation of a coalition that we have not seen before, that is, between the so-called parties of change and GERB, for example, which would be in some way a coalition formed on the European and Euro-Atlantic orientation of the state. especially in the context of the different influences in the Bulgarian state and society coming in recent months from different centers of power. Such a coalition would probably provide a stable parliamentary majority and, in my opinion, it would probably have a more constructive attitude towards our bilateral issues, than a government that would be with the parties of the left or those parties that support Radev - explains Naumovski.

When asked how such a coalition is really possible, he says that it is possible if the personal vanities of Bulgarian politicians are overcome. If the leaders of the so-called parties of change, following the example of Borisov, give up their ambitions to form a government, it is possible to form a coalition, because it is the only way to stop this situation technically and to create a political government that would have full term of four years.

Macedonia is not in the campaign

In the campaign for these early parliamentary elections, the fact is that Bulgaria dealt with itself, and Macedonia was not part of the party's programs and fights, partly because there is a national consensus in the country on the issues and relations with our country. The journalist Velichkova says that "contrary to the claims, North Macedonia was not present as a topic of the pre-election campaign in Bulgaria, in which the main emphasis was placed on the economic situation of the country, energy, as well as the Bulgarian position in relation to the war in Ukraine".

Professor Naumovski has a slightly different explanation for Macedonia's absence from the Bulgarian election campaign. According to him, after, as he calls them, the intense events surrounding the commemoration of the birth of Gotse Delchev, a period of stabilization occurred, which was supported by the strategic partners of both Macedonia and Bulgaria, who encouraged the governments, but also some other social factors to devote themselves to other priorities, not to historical issues.

- We see that those encouragements, which unfortunately came from outside and not from inside, gave results and that is something positive. Taking into account the experience of the past years, it should be a normal situation, but in our relations with Bulgaria, we were far from a normal situation - says Naumovski.

But as for what it will mean for us if a political government is not formed in Bulgaria, his assessment is that all these more radical views will continue, bearing in mind that the technical governments have been appointed by President Radev, who has a more radical view regarding our issue . However, even a technical government appointed by Radev would not deviate from what was agreed, that is, if the constitutional amendments are completed in our country, Bulgaria will not have the opportunity to block the further course of the Macedonian negotiations with the EU.

According to the proportional system of closed lists, 240 deputies will be elected in the National Assembly of Bulgaria. The total number of electoral units is 31, of which, depending on the size of the electoral unit, from four to 16 representatives/deputies are elected, and the electoral threshold is four percent.

One vote reached the price of 75 euros

The Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior expects an increase in attempts to buy votes in these elections, although now one vote has reached the price of 75 euros, three times more than in the 2021 elections, Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev informed a few days ago.

Apart from vote buying, which has been observed for decades among the poorest parts of the population, the so-called "corporate" voting in poor regions where there is one large employer who can influence employees is also problematic. Demerdzhiev admitted that there is data on the increase in cases in which workers are pressured by companies to vote for certain politicians.

In the meantime, the Anti-Corruption Fund announced that over 30 percent of Bulgarians vote in the election. One vote reached a price of 75 euros in places where there is a risk of controlled voting, and the police have already opened 48 criminal investigations into vote buying. The increase in vote-buying attempts is due to the return of ballot voting, which was abolished last year and reinstated by the previous parliament.

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