Bulgaria—and most East and Central European countries—have not had the devastating COVID-19 numbers that Western Europe has exhibited and unlike the US, for example, have managed to significantly bring down the number of infections. However, far from a major success on part of the country’s leadership, the pandemic revealed in even starker relief the near-complete absence of any labor protections. This article is published in collaboration with the regional portal Bilten. As of June 4th, 2020, when COVID-19 clocked in at 2582 infected and 147 deaths, the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov announced the lifting of a ..
Note from Lefteast editors: This articles is published in cooperation with the Croatian portal Bilten, published originally on 10.01.2020. Pernik, a declining industrial city in Western Bulgaria that’s the home of over 100,000 people, is in the grips of a water crisis. On November 18th, 2019 the city government introduced severe water restrictions, only to tighten them further a month later. At the time of writing, Pernik has water for 6 hours a day but locals complain that the schedule is not observed, leaving them to scramble for little water at unpredictable times. The purpose of these restrictions was to st ..
We are publishing this article in cooperation with the Serbo-Croatian internet portal Bilten. The current government coalition in Bulgaria comprises one center-right and three far-right parties (Ataka, the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria – NFSB, and VMRO). These three “junior” partners, which go by the name of “United Patriots” (UP), exert political gravity that goes beyond the concrete sectors of the state apparatus they control. This article traces some manifestations of that outsize influence. The current government is the second official coalition between mainstream and far-right pa ..
For the first time the workers and the disabled have a genuine representative while people on the Left who normally avoid elections for lack of real choice have someone worth their vote. Continue reading →
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 ..