Friday, January 16, 2009

Late Night Update

Today's protests ended peacefully and there is no feeling of a tense social conflict in Sofia. Don't worry, Dad I'm safe ;)
Politically things are more complicated, though.

Opposition politicians do support the protestors. The parliament is not working normally, since opposition deputies refuse to cooperate as long as the protests continue. The extreme right wing party Ataka have left the parliament not to come back before a new one elected, which might be the best decision ever taken by them.

The protesters have formulated a list of 35 demands, that can be found here (in Bulgarian) The list incorporates demands from farmers, students, environmentalists and other citizens.

  • It asks for guarantees from the state that projects budegeted with money from EU's development funds continue for the good of society.
  • Farmers demand protection from imports from outside the EU.
  • Among ecologists' demands we find a stronger protection for unexploited nature, including forbidding the state to sell its forests, measures against private explotiation and that the legal hunting season is not prolonged.
  • Students demand a profound academical reform and big investments in the infrastructure of higher educationincluding students housing, financing, and librarian facilities.
  • They also demand the adaption of legislation for academical authonomy.
  • The list also includes quicker legal action against narco criminality and state investments in the social sector like renovation of schools, support for families living in poverty
  • Next to material demands all groups call for a profoundly reformed decision making process. The protestants ask for a system where coruption is minimized, and the legislation is created in a dialogue between politicians and the directly affected civil society.

Some links providing more background info:
Warning - Sharp curves ahead a TOL free article setting the Bulgarian happenings in a European and theoretical framework
Bulgaria: 2008 Year in Review A rather rosy description of Bulgaria's 2008. Focus is on the financial situation.
A personal note: Though I do believe that the protest are able to turn down the government that noone really likes there is absolutely no tension felt in the air in Sofia. The TOL article mentions vandalized stores, a fact that I haven't seen at all before. I don't doubt the autheor, but I want to stress that the havoc is very moderate.

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