The Bulgarian government has become the latest EU administration to tumble because of austerity measures.
The conservative Prime Minister Boiko Borisov threw in the towel in parliament after public anger over high electricity prices and low standards of living erupted into street violence across the country.
He said he will not participate in a government whose police beat people.
“Every drop of blood,” Borisov said, “is a stain for us. And I cannot sit back and watch as barriers are built around the parliament.”
There was a small pro-government turnout outside parliament.
But in a country where wages are half the EU average, frozen pay and pension and tax rises have a particular sting.
When electricity prices went up Borisov’s 2009 election promises to end corruption and raise living standards appeared to vanish.
The previous prime minister, Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev said: “Early elections are ahead in a country whose economy has been demolished, where people have been brought to misery, to a condition where they cannot pay their bills – for power, for heating, to live decently.”
Borisov had made efforts to calm the violence. He sacked his finance minister, he promised to cut power prices, and risked a diplomatic row. The PM said a Czech company will lose its licence to distribute electricity in Bulgaria. But it was too little, too late.
Eleven people were treated in hospital.