The price of fuel has become the focal point of anti-austerity protests and not only in France. On November 11 2018, or one day after the 29th anniversary of the mythical November 10th 1989, celebrated as the day when the Bulgarian Communist Party GenSec Todor Zhivkov filed his resignation and ushered in the disparate panoply of changes known as the “Transition”, a protest called on the people of Sofia to rise up against the prices of fuel, of the mandatory car insurance and the proposed new taxes to be levied on old cars. The protests quickly spread engulfing more than 30 cities and towns, blocking highway ..
This article has been published in collaboration with Bilten. The following is an overview of a recent episode in the relentless war on social rights in Bulgaria. I will focus on the aborted reform of freight drivers’ work conditions as it presents us with a rare case of a clear internationalization of the extremely exploitative industrial relations prevalent in Bulgaria within the international freight sector. In 2017, during a trip to Eastern Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron drew attention to one of the obvious effects of the market integration of nations as distant and divergent in economic developme ..
The article was originally published in the portal of the Bulgarian left, New Left Perspectives. KOI’s 2018 report “The people” against welfare payments: or the art of making those in need ask for more restrictions against themselves authored by Vanya Grigorova is a follow-up of an earlier, 2016 report entitled Poor against poor. That previous report detailed the ever-proliferating types of welfare payments existent in Bulgaria, the common misconceptions about them, and the discursive and policy stratagems the Right deploys to limit access to the social safety nets. The main thesis, then and now, is that t ..
Note from the LeftEast editors: The Bulgarian media market is extremely concentrated and under immense pressure to contract still further. Several analytical outlets have recently shut down due to financial constraints. The lack of media pluralism and the severe ownership concentration have been reflected in the recent decision of Reporters Without Borders to downgrade the country’s media freedom ranking from 35th to 111th place. In this short piece, Jana Tsoneva zooms in on the latest chapter of media closures and attacks on press freedom. The article is published in collaboration with the web portal Bilt ..
This article is published in cooperation with the Serbo-Croation portal Bilten.org. The past few days, a high-voltage scandal is literally grilling the main politicians and business elites in Bulgaria: an obscure local energy company is going to buy the Bulgarian assets of the largest electricity distribution company in the country, owned by the Czech state company CEZ. The intensity of the controversy belies a deeper debate over when a private business deal constitutes a legitimate public concern. In short, the deal has exposed some paradoxes underpinning the separation between public and private, so dear to li ..
Note from the editors: Starting next month Bulgaria will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union. To acknowledge this momentous occasion, this month LeftEast will carry two texts by Jana Tsoneva analyzing the politics of contemporary Bulgaria. This article originally appeared in July on the Serbo-Croatian portal Bilten and is republished here with their generous permission. It is a habit of the lazy mind to associate only ex-Yugoslavia with ethnic conflicts, but in the late 1980s Bulgaria, too, was on the brink of an “ethnic war”. The post-1956 period regime was marked by the increase of ra ..
Ten years after Bulgaria joined the European Union as its poorest member, its economy works at two speeds, deepening the income gap between poor low-skilled workers and a handful of well payed employees working in the country’s booming areas such as IT and auto parts. The following article was originally published in Serbo-Croatian by the online platform, Bilten. Its English version is published here with the site’s kind permission. It is a truism that the wage is one of the most contested aspects in the relation between capitalists and workers. Nothing reveals better the fundamental incomprehensibility ..
The following article was originally published in Serbo-Croatian by the online platform, Bilten. Its English version is published here with the site’s kind permission. Around mid-December 2016 a news piece announced that a monument to the Cyrillic alphabet is to be erected in Antarctica. It is a joint Bulgarian-Mongolian project. The news about the monument raised some eyebrows as to the practicality of having a monument to the alphabet in a place with hardly anyone around to appreciate it. I will leave the issue of the “metaphysical” monuments and structures devoid of any function beyond a pure self-refer ..
Notes from the LeftEast editors: this article is published in cooperation with Bilten.Org where it appeared in Serbo-Croatian on the 12/16/2016. Note from the author on the English language publication: In this article I focus on the latest chapter of the ongoing ‘memory wars’ in Bulgarian public and political life. I tease out the demophobic implications of the latest amendment in the 2000 Law that declares Communism a criminal regime. Anti-communism was the staple food of the 1990s democratic opposition: “democracy” was conceived as anti-communist by definition. The more time passes, however, t ..
This article is published in collaboration with the regional portal Bilten. We are habituated to think that polluting things such as garbage normally fall on minorities to deal with in order to keep them as far from us as possible. Thus, conveniently the most “polluting” social classes are tasked with the organization of garbage. For example, in Bulgaria it is the urban Roma work who predominantly for the garbage collection companies. Their symbolic position in social space (as the lowliest and most marginal “caste”) is completed by their inhabiting the physically most marginal spaces in the city and havi ..