Maxim Behar for Bulgaria ON AIR TV Channel: Lack of Communication and Loyalty to Voters
Maxim Behar commented exclusively for Bulgaria ON AIR TV Channel on the fifth consecutive parliamentary elections. He shared his thoughts on the behavior of parliamentary parties and his view on specific measures that would lead to better economic policies for Bulgaria.
Host: It was only on the second day after the elections that most of the parties made their comments about the elections, but not all of them. What does this delay actually mean? Is it rightful and can this silence be interpreted as an insult to voters? We say good morning to the PR expert Mr. Maxim Behar. What is your personal view on the parties’ behavior, some of them have already commented on the results. The “Bulgarian Socialist Party” (BSP) came out with a comment, "We Continue the Change" (PP) stated their position, the “Movement for Rights and Freedoms” (DPS) were the first after the elections. We are still waiting for the GERB-SDS winner. Mr. Behar, how would you interpret such behavior and the silence of some of the parties?
Maxim: I think it is very infantile, and thus insulting. I really can't imagine what kind of country we live in. It’s 2023. How come the runner-up party in the election won't call the winner or come out officially, say on TV or other media, to congratulate them. Something that I consider quite normal.
Host: But they said they were waiting for the 100% official results?
Maxim: The results were clear as early as Sunday evening. There must be respect in the communication and decent loyalty to the voters. Because we all know, we live in “three Bulgarias”. And these “three Bulgarias” no longer have any tangent between them. One is the “Bulgaria of GERB”, the other is the “Bulgaria of We Continue the Change” and the third is the “Bulgaria of Vazrazhdane”. With these elections we can clearly see that the three parties no longer have a common tangent. And somehow, they should find a way to sit down, discuss and agree on how to get out of politics, so that we have experts in the government to get Bulgaria out of this mess. I am talking economically wise, not politically. If not, we will have to remain in our shells and cocoons, and wait for a miracle to happen, which will not happen. That I think it is an infantile reaction by all political parties. Nobody came out, nobody said anything to their voters. Nobody analyzed their pros and cons. They “shrunk” like guilty people who were as if afraid of being asked several questions from journalists. Afraid that their reputation might suffer. For instance, " GERB does not allow us to speak publically." Utter nonsense.
Host: Mr. Behar, how can parties negotiate, because we can see that even before any talks have started, there are already red flags between parties, such as the requirements that "We Continue the Change" drew yesterday?
Maxim: What I believe is that there is no coalition between "We Continue the Change" and "Democratic Bulgaria". There are two groups of people who have decided to unite their names. It's extremely ambiguous from a purely communicative point of view, without any specific communication as to why and how they're doing it. Maybe they have similar view on the Euro-Atlantic orientation. Economically though, there is a huge contrast. "We continue the change" is a totally left party in economic terms. "Democratic Bulgaria" is a bit more conservative and strict economically wise. But still, there is no meeting point between both parties, or at least I don’t see it. That’s why I believe there is no coalition between them. I cannot understand the message that "We Continue the Change" announced yesterday. Maybe what unites these two formations is not something positive, but rather hatred against GERB. And this is very destructive. That’s why I believe there has to be an expert government, and parties must unite in the name of the nation. Five elections in two years is already too much, not to say it is already surpassing all limits.
Host: Mr. Behar, who do you think will prevail?
Maxim: Forget about everything. There is an economic crisis. And it is very strongly reflected throughout our society. There is high inflation, a huge amount of money that is in the market, and it is causing inflation. It's not even the war in Ukraine or some external factors. Try booking a table in a restaurant in Sofia. Especially in an expensive one. Everything is booked for weeks ahead. Which means there's plenty of money in the market. The fact that prices are going up means there is a lot of money in the market.
Because if there wasn't enough, buyer purchasing power would be low, and prices would fall. What I see from an economic point of view is that the caretaker government is fighting windmills. And it is trying to correct the economy with non-economic instruments. When there is an economic crisis, all this should be put aside, as long as we have normal politicians, since not much of them have remained. They need to sit down and consider uniting for the local elections, because they are important, too. But let's find one person to lift and revive economically the country. Let's find a “Balcerowicz 2023” who has an economic thought, because if you go back to the electoral programs of the political parties just a month or two weeks ago, nobody except for “Vazrazhdane” (which are against the euro) mentioned the three giant problems that Bulgaria has. One is the introduction of the euro, that needs to happen as soon as possible. The second is Schengen. And the third is the economic crisis, inflation.
Host: What are the differences in terms of values that each political party has?
Maxim: Corruption, values, morality, ethics. There is no difference in any of the parties' messages. They are all against corruption, they all have a well-established value system, they all stand for morality in politics and in relations. However, we all know that when people return home and open their refrigerators, nobody really cares about morality and values.
Host: That’s why we ask about what solutions that parties have proposed in order to solve people's problems. Because indeed, when they go to the store they say, "Prices are high"?
Maxim: It’s fairly easy to propose solutions, as the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) does, including some other formations saying, "We need to increase wages, we need to increase pensions, etc.." These are empty promises. There is no way this can happen, we need economic measures. Market economics is at the heart of everything. We need to revive the market in Bulgaria, which is currently a little suppressed. Yes, you can still do business there, similar to other Eastern European countries, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary. You can do business. But if the market revives, then people will have even higher salaries. There will be money for pensions and there will be motivation for foreign investors to come to Bulgaria. I'm opening a big parenthesis in our conversation so far, I can bet with anyone who wants to tell me what the message of each of the political parties involved in the elections is on the topic: Foreign Investment. Bulgaria should open up to Foreign Direct Investments, because foreign investors bring not only money, but also culture and business participation in the market. Therefore, I agree that it is very important to have morality, ethics and values, but it’s clear that you should have these, anyway.
Host: Finally, what do you think is going to be the outcome of this political situation. Are we going to have any kind of government, be it a short-term expert one, or are we going to go to the polls twice in the autumn?
Maxim: We need a government. I think it is possible and I think it will happen. Because despite their differences, sanity must prevail, these are intelligent and young people. They sure do care about the direction in which Bulgaria is moving. And there is one more reason to have a government. The Parliament. If there is no government, there is no Parliament. There will be a caretaker government. Otherwise, no new economic or other law can be introduced in Bulgaria. It seems to me that there will be a government in the next three weeks.
Host: Thank you for this conversation, Mr. Maxim Behar.
You can watch the whole interview here.