Bulgaria's New Old PM Boyko Borisov: What Should Be Remembered
Boyko Borisov, who became Bulgaria's Prime Minister on Friday after Parliament gave him the "thumbs up", is certainly a sensation in Bulgaria's politics, being the only head of government who managed to get the office for a second time since democracy was reinstated in 1989.
Now as the new old Prime Minister he will be facing a fragmented Parliament and a fragile coalition to tackle long-standing issues of Bulgaria's development. Regardless of his past mistakes and widely-commented flaws, he is still considered by many to be Bulgaria's most influential politician.
Boyko Metodiev Borisov was born on June 13, 1959, in the then village of Bankya, which today is a town of 10 000 inhabitants, and an administrative district of the greater Sofia Municipality.
Boyko Borisov's father, Metodi Borisov, was an officer at the Sofia City Directorate of the Interior Ministry, and his mother, Veneta Borisova, was a nursery school teacher in Bankya. Boyko Borisov's sister, Krasimira Ivanova, was born in 1965.
In 1982, Borisov graduated from the Interior Ministry Academy (then known as the Higher Special School of the Interior Ministry) with an engineering degree in "Firefighting Equipment and Safety", and a rank of lieutenant.
The same year Borisov started work at the fire department of the Sofia City Directorate of the Interior Ministry as a platoon commander. He later became a company commander.
In 1985, according to his own account, Borisov was sent as a battalion commander to the Northeast Bulgarian town of Dulovo to guard public order (during the period of the so-called “Revival Process”), and the harvesting of the crops.
In 1978, Borisov started practicing karate actively. He has been a long-time coach of the Bulgarian national karate team, and an international karate referee. He currently holds seventh dan.
In 1985-1990, Boyko Borisov was a Professor at the Higher Institute for Officers' Training and Scientific Research Activity of the Interior Ministry (Part of the Interior Ministry Academy. During that period he received a Ph. D. at the same institution. The topic of his doctoral dissertation was "Psycho-physical Training of the Operational Staff".
In 1991, Borisov founded the IPON-1 Ltd firm which became one of the largest security and personal protection company in Bulgaria. The firm itself is a member of the International Association of Personal Protection Agents (IAPPA), and Borisov himself is an individual member.
In the period 1991-2000, Borisov was mainly engaged with this business activity, with his firm being hired to provide personal protection for top political figures such as Bulgaria's former communist dictator, Todor Zhivkov, and Bulgaria's King, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (later to become Prime Minister).
In September, 2001, Boyko Borisov was appointed Chief Secretary of Bulgaria's Interior Ministry by the government of Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and was simultaneously promoted to colonel. In 2002, Borisov was promoted to major general, and in June 2004 - to lieutenant general.
He served as Interior Ministry Chief Secretary during the whole term of PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and his National Movement "Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha" (which was renamed to National Movement for Stability and Progress in 2007).
After Sofia's previous Mayor, Stefan Sofiyanski, was elected to Parliament and resigned from his position two years before the end of his term, in October 2005, Borisov ran as independent candidate, and was elected Sofia Mayor with a landslide. He was sworn into office on November 10, 2005.
Two years later, at the 2007 regular local elections, Borisov ran as a candidate of his own newly-formed party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria), and again won overwhelmingly.
His party GERB was initially formed as a civic organization in March 2006 by persons close to Borisov, and formally became a political party on December 3, 2006. As Borisov was forbidden by law to be both a party leader and a mayor at the same time, his close associated, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, resigned as Deputy Mayor of Sofia to chair the party.
Borisov headed the Bulgarian government in 2009, winning by a landsline with won by a landslide with 39.1 percent of the vote, leaving the runner-up BSP, which had previously done well in most elections, with half as much. GERB's leader however failed to form a majority on his own, since his party was three MP seats short of this end (117 out of 240 MPs). He therefore opted to have a minority coalition supported by entities such as the Blue Coalition (something of a predecessor of the Reformist Bloc) and ultra-nationalist Ataka.
His tenure was marked by a myriad of controversial decisions and enjoyed mixed reception. Some claimed had succeeded in raising living standards, promoting macro-economic stability, fighting organized crime and helping Bulgarian politics to emancipate from Russia. Borisov infuriated Moscow at least a few times in end-2000s and early 2010s by abandoning key energy projects as the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline and the Belene NPP, but was also much hated by some businesses for imposing a ban on shale gas exploration in Bulgaria. On the other hand many accused him of actually suppressing small and medium enterprises, introducing a “police state” and certain censorship in the media and generally growing more authoritarian over the years, failing at the same time to halt crime and corruption and arranging police actions as performances to impress the public. Whatever the outcome of Borisov's new government, the 2009-2013 will be remembered for his usual incoherence and a tendency to quickly change his mind about key issues.
In February 2013, he shockingly resigned after more than a fortnight of protests over the combination of soaring electricity prices and plummeting standards, but some of his defenders claim the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) was involved in organizing huge demonstrations.
Borisov nevertheless vowed to come back and indeed won the early elections in May 2013, but failed to form a government and returned the mandate, leaving it in the hands of the BSP and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS)'s socialist-liberal coalition. He pledged to act as a constructive opposition, but in reality conducted mass walkouts of GERB lawmakers every time an important discussion was under way, knowing the balance of power in the legislature was not in his favor.
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