Bulgaria was put under a new test on Sunday, October 5th. It was a test of choosing a path to stability over the uncertainty that dominated our neighboring country too long.
It’s still unclear how the political class and Bulgaria will be able to reset the South-Danubian politics.
The center-right party, former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s GERB, obtained the best score, approximately 33.2% of the vote (85 seats in parliament), but not enough to secure a majority. GERB is followed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party with 16.5% and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (Turkish minority formation) with approximately 14.1%. The next Bulgarian Parliament might include eight political parties.
Former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was ousted from power 18 months ago due to street protests against poverty and corruption, after leading the country from 2009 to 2013. The new technocrat Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, had the same fate. Actually, he even didn’t have the chance to govern because new street demonstrations rose. Thus, there was a long period of political instability that endangered the entire economy and the Bulgarian state.
Boiko Borisov spoke before the election about a gloomy period for Bulgaria; he wasn’t able to assemble a parliamentary majority so he will be forced to govern through an alliance with small right parties after tough negotiations.
The new government will have to manage extremely unpopular reforms, which translates into harsh time for a population that already sees the situation as unbearable. It will also face a stagnant economy, poverty, corruption, a winter when the Russian gas dependence becomes overwhelming.
The EU also suspended the European funds worth of hundreds of million, following the detection of irregularities in the procurement procedure, and the CCB, the fourth bank in the country, send messages that bankruptcy is imminent. All these in the context of the Ukrainian crisis, which generates more political instability, and the Middle East tensions that caused an influx of Syrian refugees via Turkey.
After two years of political instability, Sunday did not bring the best results. Many people share the idea that Bulgaria will be facing a long period of instability, thus any government will be put under extremely high pressure, not at all constructive. With so many problems, the new government will not be able to engage on a constructive path, considering the economy won’t be a support pillar because it deserves the most attention.
For Bulgarians, the aspiration for political stability is pending. Following the ill-fated political and economic evolution of Bulgaria we can understand why political stability is so important.
North of Danube, Romania finds itself in a stable environment, but it’s not so well entrenched for allowing us to be relaxed. The benefits of political and economic stability are obvious and desirable.
Due to this stability it was possible to reduce the country risk, 3 times lower now than in 2011, according to a recent report published by Standard & Poors – “S&P Capital IQ Sovereign Dept Report Q2 2014”.
With 9.3% risk of default, Romania is more credible in international markets than Greece (34.2%), Cyprus (29.6%), Croatia (16.4%), Portugal (13.8%), Hungary (11.2%) and Bulgaria (9.9%).
But this is not the first time I underline the importance of political stability. A year ago, still in the beginning of autumn, I wrote that: “Political stability is as necessary for the economy as a body recovery after surgery.
The exaggerated dynamics of the political factor, meaning effervescence, has in its evolution a natural instability.
And instability generates disorder, lack of calculated measures, prudent and well grounded arbitrary measures, emotional and pathos, often uninspired repositioning, policy makers statements who remain and influence the economic environment and society.
All these actions are harmful to economic life and not only. They block it, cripple it, take its will and dynamics.”
Either for Romania or Bulgaria, the same principles can be applied anytime. Romania entered a constructive, difficult path, but it must maintain an essential ingredient to achieve success, the one which can generate economic growth: the political stability.
Bulgaria will face a bleak period, and recovery will be more painful and more difficult in the absence of political stability. It will get very little support, it won’t know how to negotiate it, the voices will be multiple and contradictory, there will be gaps between and within generations. Anything agreeded today will be ruined tommorrow. All these paint a cold picture, but it’s just a reflection of human choices, never perfect.
Are we interested in? Of course, the Bulgarians are our neighbors. Such as Ukrainians.
I do not want to suggest that the situation in Bulgaria will get as worse as the one in Ukraine. But our neighbors’ stability will count.
Let’s not forget that in every crisis we can find seeds of opportunity. There was a time when we faced an exodus of Romanian companies towards a more relaxed fiscal environment in Bulgaria. And we lost a lot in that time. Now may be the time of bringing them back.
It depends on how we manage this opportunity!
Adrian Marius Dobre