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  • Borislav Ivanov

The fight against corruption in Bulgaria and the EU’s unwillingness to help

Although Bulgaria has been fully incorporated into the European union since a decade and a half, it is still its poorest member. This is the case, mainly due to the rampant corruption in the country and the inability to recover from communist rule. Corruption is like a plague in Bulgaria, and therefore it must be met with even stricter anti-pandemic measures than COVID-19. This major issue caused a 5-month-long demonstration in front of the parliament, presidency, and other government buildings, as well as on many of Sofia’s major central streets, blocking traffic and public transport for months. In addition to that, there were demonstrations in almost every large city in Bulgaria, especially in Plovdiv, Burgas, Varna, Stara Zagora, Sliven, Ruse, Pleven, Silistra, and more. Afterwards, there were elections in early 2021, which saw the rise of 3 new major political parties – ITN (There is such a people), Stand UP! Mafia Out (ISMV), and Democratic Bulgaria (DB). These political parties severely challenged the rule of the status quo, as ITN was very close to surpassing the dominating party up until then – GERB. However, a majority was not reached by any of the parties, and all of them were unwilling to form a coalition. So, there were repeat elections a couple of months later, where even more people voted for the so-called “protest parties”, and ITN surpassed GERB by a slight margin. However, once again a majority was reached by neither party, and none of the parties currently in parliament want to form a coalition. The parties, currently in the Bulgarian parliament are ITN, GERB, BSP (the Bulgarian Socialist Party), ISMV, Democratic Bulgaria, and DPS (the Movement for rights and freedoms). Therefore, new repeat elections have been scheduled for November 2021, which may not lead to a conclusive result as well. Bulgaria’s political future stays in limbo.

One major step in the fight against corruption is the sanctioning of a handful of corrupt Bulgarian businessmen by the US, under the Magnitsky act.

Recently, however, Bulgaria asked the EU Commission to help with the fight agains

t corruption. Help wasn’t granted. Corruption in Bulgaria isn’t addressed as strongly there, as it is severely underreported. This, and the fact that an outside power – the United States, had to impose sanctions on Bulgarian oligarchs, has been seen as a severe failure by the commission itself, and it even raises questions about the EU’s own approach to democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights. The Commission has since pledged to fix its mistakes and lead the fight against corruption in Bulgaria and other EU states.

In order for Bulgaria and the EU as a whole to fully prosper, corrupt politicians, businessmen, police officers, lawmakers, lawyers, judges, investors, and everyone in between should not only be prosecuted, but persecuted. The chains of corruption have to be crushed to dust, and every corrupt individual must suffer unbearably harsh consequences. As there is no other way forward.

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