Tension flares in Bulgaria after top court reinstates controversial MP

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By Euronews
Tension flares in Bulgaria after top court reinstates controversial MP

On Tuesday, the Bulgarian Constitutional Court reinstated the controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski as a lawmaker after the cancellation of his appointment as the head of the State Agency for National Security (ДАНС or DANS), the Bulgarian secret service.

This decision singlehandedly jolted back to life an anti-goverment protest movement, on its 117th day, which had significantly lost steam since the end of the summer.

Fresh protests and clashes erupted soon after the top court decision in Sofia, the capital. According the Bulgarian news agency Novonite, six people were detained as violent clashes between protestors and police erupted in Sofia on Tuesday night. There were reports of some injuries, but no further details were immediately available.

TV coverage showed stones being pelted and protesters thrown onto the ground by the police. On Wednesday morning, several dozens of people had already gathered near the Parliament’s MP entrance, according to the agency.

To understand the reaction of the demonstrators, one must see Peevski as the man by over whom the scandal first erupted. These anti-government protests were originally sparked by his controversial appointment as the new head of the State Agency for National Security.

Public anger eventually led to his removal but the demonstrations have continued, with the people demanding reforms that will bring greater transparency to Bulgarian public life, which they claim is fraught with corruption.

Other Bulgarian politicians in power are the target of the protesters’ anger. After the court’s decision, the motorcade of Bulgarian Prime minister Plamen Oresharski was surrounded by anti-government protestors. The demonstrators stood in the way of Oresharski’s vehicle in downtown Sofia, chanting “Resign”, “Trash”, and “Mafia,” Novonite reports. Oresharski managed to exit the tense situation with the help of a police and security forces escort.

Watch videos of the crowd surrounding the PM’s car

No political solution in sight

GERB party (conservative, opposition) leader and former PM Boyko Borisov reacted to the court’s decision on the social media, using hashtags popular amongst the anti-goverment movement. He tweeted: “the only reasonable way out of the crisis is resignation and snap elections.”

However, it is unlikely GERB would emerge the winner of snap elections, as the party remains unpopular. Street protests over low living standards and high utility bills in the European Union’s poorest member state toppled Bulgaria’s previous centre-right GERB government last February. GERB won most votes in the May election but failed to find a partner to build a new coalition, making way for the second-placed Socialists to cut a deal with the ethnic Turkish party (whom Peevski is a member of).

In addition, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, and not GERB, would likely win the elections for Parliament , if they were to be held now, according to a recent poll a recent poll conducted by the Institute of Modern Politics, an independent think-thank.