Monday, January 19, 2009

Zelenite round table discussion

Zelenite presented their platform for the campaign ”da vurnem dyurjavata na grajdanite”-Let's return the state to the citizens at a round table discussion open for the public. Except for journalists for various Bulgarian media representants of the center-right opposition parties and NGO'slike the Association of Bulgarian Mothers and the student groups that had organized the demonstrations 14th of January. I will try to summarize the discussion here. I neither guarantee completeness of accuracy, since it was carried out in Bulgarian.

A participant, currently living in Germany pointed out that the state of Bulgaria is bad due to the lack of a coherent and effective strategy. As an example the current gas crisis is unneccessary. Bulgaria have too many resources for renewable energy to be depedent on Russian gas. Another speaker claimed that no country in the world has more strategical documents than Bulgaria, and it's something else that prevents them from being implemented.

Other participants pointed out that the problem is of a structrual kind. The current political institutions in fact prevent development. The relationship between institutions, the morale of the politial class and the civic enagement was discussed intensely.

Speakers generally agreed that today's holders of power lcked morale as well as political will, and that the institutions were week. From the political side this weakness was explained with a large indifference among the public. This statement was not accepted by representants from NGO's that pointed out that largely useless political institutions make people indifferent, and that a tremendous amount of civic activity actually takes place in Bulgaria but never affects the running of the country.

Wether the concept political class refers only to the sitting government or also involves the attending opposition politicians, that made a big point out of their dissident heritage, was an open question.

Corruption and organized crime was always a present topic, and several speakers pointed out that the government needed to take this into consideration. For example a proposal was lai to have a committee look at all law texts, and sort out those that was too easily abused, to complicated to be used in action etc.

The students' representant pointed out the importance of a reformed educational system, and the representant from the bulgarian mothers' association declared their support for a majority election system in stead of today's proportional, and the need of direct ways for citizens to influence lawmaking, pretty much along the lines Zelenite layed out in their document.

The leaders of the opposition parties were eager to declare their support for the campaign, and friendlyness towards Zelenite. However they raised some doubts about how to get to the goals statedin the document. Any concrete plans for coalitions etc. will be announced in the end of February.

This round table was only the first of many discussions about the way ahead, Zelenite emphasised in the end. It is not about winning an election but about to chane the entire system in favour of citizen's participation.

One way to keep the discussion going will be on the internet. Zelenite are about to launch a web site for the campaign, where citizens will be able to post their comments and suggestions.

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