Frankfurter Rundschau: PM Borisov, the Bull of Bulgaria

Views on BG | October 9, 2014, Thursday // 17:03
Bulgaria: Frankfurter Rundschau: PM Borisov, the Bull of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov, former Bulgarian Prime Minister and leader of center-right party GERB, photo by BGNES

German daily newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau has published an article on the situation in Bulgaria after the early elections on October 15.

The publication, titled “The Bull of Bulgaria,” is devoted to the comeback of former Prime Minister and leader of center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria), Boyko Borisov.

The German daily announces in a subheading that the GERB party of Boyko Borisov, “a friend of Europe”, has won the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria amid substantial mistrust.

Frankfurter Rundschau reminds of Borisov’s resignation from the post of Prime Minister in February 2013.

Boyko Borisov announced his resignation in February 2013 on the grounds that he did not want to be Prime Minister of a country in which the police was beating up citizens. Impoverished residents of Sofia had been protesting for weeks against the Prime Minister and the situation had escalated into serious clashes,” the newspaper states.

“Now he is probably returning to office. Opinions are divided as to whether Borisov was indeed as touchy as he appeared or it was simply a matter of excellent calculations,” Frankfurter Rundschau.

“His party “Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria” (GERB) won the elections with 32.7% of the votes, as the preliminary results showed on Monday. However, he fell short of a majority. Borisov now wants to form a minority government,” the newspaper informs, stressing that Borisov had declared that he wanted to rule by himself.

The German daily cites Borisov as saying that he was ready to do everything possible to avoid a political deadlock, stressing that the alternative to a coalition with his participation was organizing new elections.

“Harsh words as these may be, Borisov has always been successful with his self-stylization as a rough fellow with a big heart. A tough firefighter from the suburbs, then street cop, karate fighter, then bodyguard, and at the age of 55, center-forward for a second-division football club: Boyko Borisov is what Arnold Schwarzenegger was only acting out,” Frankfurter Rundschau says.

The German newspaper traces the career development of Borisov, mentioning his education as firefighter, his title of Associate Professor at Bulgaria's Police Academy, and the establishment of a private security company after the fall of the Communist regime.

“Whoever came on the scene in the wild 90s could become a criminal or politician, or both,” the newspaper states.

“In 2001, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, former Tsar, who had just become Prime Minister, appointed the darkly-resolute hero of boy dreams Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry.

Borisov used his image as the avenger of the dispossessed and dealt a blow to corruption. Under his instructions, big SUVs were stopped and the owners were asked where they had got the money from. However, the major mafiosos kept living in safety. The popular bald-headed top cop demonstrated his perspicacity by running for Sofia Mayor in 2005. The municipal office, meaningless at the time of the Communist Party, was a discovery in the 2000s,” the newspaper says.

“Everywhere on the Balkans mayors of capitals were imitating the beefy Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, thereby avoiding the widespread contempt for politicians. In 2009, Borisov managed to become head of government with a newly founded “right-wing” party. He claimed that his election victory had been his way of avenging the murder of his grandfather by communists in 1944. It turned out later on that it had been his great-grandfather and he had been murdered by ordinary criminals, not communists,” the newspaper notes.

“During his four-year term in office as Prime Minister, Borisov offered no surprises.  He hardly missed the opportunity to speak into the microphone. In political terms, he pursued a course of stringent austerity measures, despite the fact that the promised recovery never materialized. A network of suspicious companies quickly got entangled with his party, as well as with all other parties. No person of high rank from the political- criminal complex of Bulgaria was ever brought to court. When it was revealed that he had ordered the Customs Agency Chief to stop an investigation against a brewery owned by a person close to the party, Borisov admitted to the scandal. He managed to save his charisma through this move. Now he wants to save Bulgaria from a minority government. Can it work? If so, then only because of the charisma,” Frankfurter Rundschau concludes.

Citing conclusions of observers of the early elections, the German daily also points out that there were graver concerns about their legitimacy than in the previous round of elections.

The publication underscores that the Interior Ministry received more than 200 complaints on Election Day, with over 60 investigations launched by the authorities.

The newspaper draws attention to the problems with the Electoral Register, including the fact that it is based on the permanent address of voters, which rarely matches with the actual situation, and that there are an alleged 1.2 million “dead souls” (fictional voters) in it.

Frankfurter Rundschau also informs about massive vote-buying, especially in neighborhoods characterized by rampant poverty, with people receiving up to EUR 50 per vote.

The German newspaper goes on to reveal two vote-buying schemes.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, GERB, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, early elections
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