Below we share a very interesting interview on the political situation in Bulgaria. This interview was held by the editors of “Die Rote Fahne” (Red Flag), a new revolutionary and democratic newspaper from Austria, with a representative of the "September 23rd Movement" from Bulgaria.
(Own translation / Source: www.rotefahne.at)
Interview: Parliamentary election in Bulgaria and assessments of the current situation
We are very happy to be able to publish an interview that shortly after the re-election of the Bulgarian parliamentary elections in July of this year, a representative of the “Movement of September 23” from Bulgaria was held. Although the interview is almost three months old, it has lost none of its topicality. Above all because a repetition of the election was announced again in September, i.e. the third this year. We thank the representative of the "Movement of September 23rd" and hope with this interview to give our readers a good insight into the political situation in Bulgaria. Editorial staff /
Red Flag: The deepening of the political crisis in Bulgaria was particularly evident with the re-election in July. The traditional strongest parties lost massively. What is your assessment of the situation after the re-election, new elections and the political situation that is expressed in the election?
Movement September 23: We can say that the political crisis started in the summer of 2020 when the former ruling party, which was in government for ten years, and the presidential institutions constantly faced issues such as corruption, erosion of the state (bad state management) and blamed each other for the inadequate governance and crisis resolution. Indeed, the crisis is primarily an economic crisis and a crisis of the ruling class and its institutions. What is special about the protests against the government is that many young people have taken part in the last year. The reason for this is the renewed rise in unemployment and also the crisis in Western Europe, in the so-called “developed” countries, where many Bulgarians used to work and study. Due to the crisis, they were forced to return to Bulgaria. Members of our organization also took part in these months-long protests. We found that certain people posed as leaders of the protest who only spoke about their liberal rights, never about who is going to pay for this crisis, never about the working class. Several times our members were prevented from speaking at the protests. At the same time, the organizers presented themselves as advocates of free speech. So this was the true indicator of the upcoming elections in 2021. They are preparing new movements and parties that will take part in the election campaign and present the old politics wrapped up in a new form.
None of the parties that took part in the elections mentioned any solutions for the interests of the working class in their programs. When we speak of the old parties, the formerly strongest parties, which now want to capitalize on the dissatisfaction of the population, we are not talking about two completely different forces. Of course, they represent the same thing on one point, namely the Komprador capitalist class in Bulgaria. We believe that one of the main contradictions between these two groups, the old and the new, can be seen at the international level. For example, the Borisov party was closely linked to German imperialist politics and it was evident that its decision to develop energy projects that would benefit Germany should be blocked by the US. And the so-called "new" parties stand for an even stronger focus on US imperialism. That is the one contradiction. The other is that Borissov is not only a German puppet, he is also a servant of the United States, he had to compensate. Borisov's role was a compromise in the eyes of the masses, to the extent that even the imperialists realized that it was time to make the system look "new" in order to maintain it. That leads to the next question, whether there will be another re-election. We are not sure because on the one hand, if there is another election, they will try to favor the new parties more. But probably the western imperialists want the government to be formed as soon as possible.
After the second election we saw very clearly articulated positions of the new parties that "a new government should definitely be formed". You see the urgency. On the one hand, they want another election, on the other, they are pushing for a government to be formed as soon as possible. It is a special feature for the bourgeois parties that they are all constantly advised by the representatives of the US embassy in Bulgaria. They have regular meetings at the embassy. This is why our movement says that the real decisions are made in this building of the embassy. At the same time, anti-communist rhetoric became increasingly prominent in the election campaign. It was a strange thing that the right-wing parties would accuse each other of communism and bolshevism. What are they afraid of? Obviously they are panicking that the only alternative to their beloved system is socialism.
Red Flag: The party “There is such a people” suddenly got the most votes cast and is headed by a musician. This is reminiscent of the election victory of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine, who was previously an actor and TV presenter. Where does the name of the party come from and how do you assess it?
Movement September 23: Regarding the name of the party: At first they wanted to call themselves "There is no such state", which is a saying in the Bulgarian language to express extreme disappointment and disregard. But the institutions refused to register with that name and they chose the name "There is such a people". The idea behind the name is that the Bulgarian people can achieve something for Bulgaria, despite the state, the corrupt state. The leader is a person whose image has been shaped by the media for 20 years. He is a wealthy man and businessman who used to be close friends with Borisov, but now his political campaign is a political rivalry between the two. If we look at the party's program, we see that the party's real name should be "There is no such party". In their program it is evident that the interests of foreign monopoly capital come first. They want a stronger prioritization and talk about "law" and "morality". If you look at their top candidates and their “program”, which in fact does not contain anything concrete, it becomes clear that they aim to better serve the capitalist class and want to present themselves as their “better representatives” than the old parties. And basically that's what all the other parties are talking about. Immediately after the second election, the “show-man” politician presented the candidates from the entire cabinet, all of whom have graduated from renowned universities outside Bulgaria, speak several foreign languages and work for large financial corporations. They explained to the people the need for a "government of experts" who would only "do their job" and thus lead to prosperity. This is part of the general trend in bourgeois politics: labeling "politics" as a dirty business and relying on "experts". This party fully represents this trend. The candidate for the office of prime minister was a person who had been a minister in previous governments (2001-2005). However, people remember that time when public property was sold on a large scale and given into private hands. This impoverished the working population and was forced to emigrate. The reaction of the population to the proposal of this Prime Minister was immediately negative and that makes the game of the bourgeoisie to form a new government even more difficult at the moment. This party is a mix of personalities who are hated by the people for having harmed the interests of the people in the past and personalities who are known for their good offices for big business.
Red Flag: We would like to briefly refer to the “Bulgarian Socialist Party” (BSP). That party lost 14 percent between 2017 and 2021. Is that an expression of the crisis of reformism?
Movement September 23rd: First of all, this party has been one of the main forces in the restoration of the capitalist system in Bulgaria over the past 30 years. And the word "socialism" in their name has nothing to do with the real politics that it once operated. This fact is becoming more and more obvious. The BSP is known as a party that serves capitalist interests and in this new economic crisis the broad masses are turning their backs on the BSP. The party is still playing the card that it is the defender of the advanced socialist system by using people's feelings of "socialist nostalgia" about the period of socialism. This party cannot be supported by revolutionary forces because it is a servant of capitalism, which has been shown above all by its participation in government. When they were in government, they did a lot of liberalization. The best example of this is the flat tax in 2007/08.
What causes people to have little confidence not only in BSP but also in their right-wing competitors is the fact that these parties are not setting an agenda for the real problems of the masses. This is also clear when you consider that all the major parties in this Parliament are taught what democracy should be from the so-called foreign NGOs. Mainly American and German funds are used to ensure that they work on behalf of foreign companies. That they serve the capitalists and always ignore the serious consequences of this policy for the working population.
Red Flag: In Austria, the tendency for decades has been that the participation in the elections has been falling and trust in parliamentary drama has been falling ever further. The tparticipation is between 60 and 70%. In Bulgaria, it was 42%, which shows that the party with the strongest vote was only able to win around 1/10 of the eligible population. What is the attitude of the broad masses to parliamentarianism and what must the policy of the revolutionary forces in Bulgaria be in relation to these facts?
Movement September 23: Bourgeois propaganda claims that state power is determined by the election result. That is why they have campaigned for people to vote so that they can legitimize the system. Despite this forced bourgeois propaganda to vote for no matter who, voting was formally declared a "compulsory" vote. The low turnout shows the great mistrust of the Bulgarian population and especially the working class towards this so-called democratic system. This explains their forced propaganda to get people to vote because the bourgeoisie feels that it is losing its legitimacy.
Parliament's reputation has been very low over the past 20 years, that is nothing new. That is what the official commentators say too. The most important thing for us in this situation is to tear down the mask of the diversity of the parties in Parliament, because they all clearly serve the interests of economy and will work to further suppress the working class, which will only deepen the crisis.
Red Flag: One of the largest NATO military exercises since World War II recently took place in Eastern Europe. In Austria there was a protest against the NATO military transports. A rally against the presence of NATO troops was also organized in Bulgaria. How many armed forces are there in Bulgaria within the framework of NATO and what is the purpose of the stationing of troops for the imperialists?
Movement September 23: US military bases were established in Bulgaria in 2006 (when the Socialist Party established a coalition government). As everywhere in the world, their presence in our country guarantees and secures theft and plundering by the large corporations and companies. For this reason Bulgaria was admitted to NATO and also to the EU without holding a referendum among the population. The same goes for the stationing of American troops. We have seen that imperialism, and especially the US, have no mercy when it comes to waging war. They don't even shrink from armed conflict when the system of exploitation is at stake. The example of Syria and Ukraine, both places very close to Bulgaria, show this clearly. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, it has become increasingly evident that the US and its allies in Western Europe are trying to encircle Russia and speak openly about a direct confrontation and intimidate Russia with armed conflict. Put simply, it is about maintaining the current system of imperialist exploitation and serving the policy of encircling Russia.
Bulgarian troops were involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on behalf of US interests, and now these reactionary forces are showing that they not only have Bulgaria but also the Central European countries, from the Baltic to the Eastern European countries, as playgrounds to use for new war conflict. The face of US imperialism in the region is not to bring "democracy and prosperity" to the people, but to use these countries as cannon fodder for their imperialist war. We strictly oppose this option and believe that the anti-imperialist and anti-war movement must act urgently to prevent such a plan.
Red Flag: What is your position on NATO and the increasing danger of war in Eastern Europe and the Balkans? Can you tell us about the rally and any other activities related to this matter?
Movement September 23: At the beginning of June this year, our movement organized a protest against the US-NATO military in our country. The reason for this was an incident where American soldiers broke into a factory in Bulgaria and threatened the workers with their rifles. It was an exercise in which a factory building was stormed. A so-called "incident" occurred in which real weapons were pointed at the workers. That was a clear example of the lack of respect for Bulgarian sovereignty. We called on anti-imperialist and patriotic groups to join the protest. The call to protest was made on an anti-imperialist basis because we see this particular struggle as one for national liberation.
In the Balkans we see that peace is also at stake, as the imperialists are interested in new divisions and conflicts in this region, so in this situation it is very important international solidarity and contact between the revolutionary forces in the Balkan countries to maintain.
Red Flag: The government under Borrisow made the push for the upcoming introduction of the euro in Bulgaria in 2024. What is your position on this, what are the interests of the working class and the masses on this issue?
Movement September 23rd: The introduction of the euro in Bulgaria will be a further step towards the integration of Bulgaria into the western imperialist structures, the abolition of the Bulgarian state sovereignty and the impoverishment of the Bulgarians. With this move, Bulgaria will lose one of its last signs of sovereignty. The banking and finance sector is already largely dominated by Western corporations. We believe that the introduction of the euro currency will further strengthen the interests of these forces. That is why we reject this whole process.
The current economic crisis of capitalism, which is presented only as a consequence of the "Covid-19 pandemic", raises the question of the replacement of the system. We have many positive examples of the working class starting to fight more and more. No austerity measures, no repression, no censorship are able to silence the justified anger of the masses and it is our duty to lead the struggle for revolution. Even if the political situation in Bulgaria is very specific, we recognize that our struggle should be just as much focused on our own circumstances, but can only be successful if it is conducted in coordination with all revolutionary forces in other countries.