my name is Stefan. I am almost 22 years old and I come from Bulgaria. I’m writing this story with an existential conflict of love, denial, pain and pride. Why? Because I’m a citizen of the greatest liberal country in the world – Bulgaria. Irony – you think? Let me explain.
My country was part of the communist bloc for 45 years. During that time the authority laid only in the hands of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BKP or БКП) and its leader Todor Jivkov. I am not going to explain the political situation, nor the freedom issues, because you would not be able to understand. I will describe it in a simple way. No drama, a mine worker was paid the same as a professor – that is social justice. If you wanted to buy a car, you had to wait for around 10 years – if you are lucky. Bananas were available only around Christmas and if you were able to survive the cue that was circling the “special” store. While you listened to Beatles, Bulgaria listened to Vladimir Vysotsky.
Anyway, in 1989 the regime fell. We had achieved democracy and as you would see a democracy it was. In the typical fashion in which the Bulgarian people would think and do in the next 24 years, the first “democratic” elections were won by …[dramatic pause]…the communists again. Let me take you in 2013, today, when we had our elections, so you can understand why Bulgaria is the land of the greatest liberal, forgiving and democratic people in the world.
My father graduated as an engineer. Now he works as a trader in a big bank. My mom however, graduated as an engineer – now she works in the radio business. See? Freedom for everybody and liberty of professional development. Bulgaria is in the top largest markets for BMW and Mercedes. Not bad. We are so well off and high minded that we can afford to let 14 billion euro to leak through foreign businesses instead of staying in our country through proper regulations of certain trades – nothing important – like energy, health care and finance. The communists are still here with a different name – Bulgarian Socialist Party, despite the transitional period of 24 years in which supposedly everyone in the country tried to erase the memory of them. No problem, we even elected them several times post 1989, most recently in 2005. They held power together with the “Movement for Rights and Freedoms” an ethnic Turkish party, against which I hold nothing – but it is one of the greatest evidences and achievements of the liberal people of Bulgaria, because coincidentally we were under Ottoman slavery for 500 years.
On 12th of May we had our pro-term elections. The previous ruling party GERB resigned to relieve the pressure in the country which was near eruption after massive protests against the high bills of energy during the winter. It was amazing. The people were awake, there were galvanization of energy and cries of revolution, power to the people once again – the Bulgarian Spring. Everything and everyone was against the oppression, financial crisis and the monopoly on the biggest trades. The management of the country was indeed controversial with several question marks about transparency, corruption – the usual stuff. I have never seen the usually forgiving and liberal Bulgarian in such rage. There was hope.
Instead of constructive dialogue however, the election campaign went under the constant accusations and lies. Ignoring the needs of the people, the political parties went on to fight about who-done-what and when. Now that I think – it was not a big surprise they are doing this for 24 years now… Who gives a crap for a nation that usually doesn’t do anything that can hold you accountable? Despite that the people wanted change! The people wanted it now! Immediately!
60 days later the election activity was 39%. The party that won – GERB. Second and third? Bulgarian Socialist Party and the “Movement for Rights and Freedoms”. We forgot. We forgave. If that is not the greatest liberal country in the world, I don’t know which is.
I don’t have much time to write now and that was a long story told short. If you think it is crap, don’t worry I would probably forgive you, at the end I am simply a Bulgarian.”
Stefan B. Satchkov
Stefan is a Bulgarian citizen living in The Hague and studying at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. He will be soon a contributor to the blog!