Maxim Behar: Priorities for Bulgaria: better economy and more aggressive branding

PR expert Maxim Behar and journalist Mina Badzheva comment on the political situation following the election of the Chairman of the Bulgarian Parliament and the future governance of Bulgaria in the studio of "Your Day" on NOVANEWS TV, hosted by Lora Indzhova.

Host(Lora Indzhova): Mina Badjeva and Maxim Behar are here with me to begin analyzing what we have seen in Bulgarian parliamentary life in the past two days. Hello and welcome!

Maxim Behar: Good day!

Host: Is it good news that we finally have a chairman of the National Assembly, and the real work of the deputies can continue? What did this whole process show us?

Maxim: What we saw today was a very temporary "happy end." If anyone is relieved from this ridiculous procedure, it's only 20-30 people in the parliamentary hall. All the voters watching this comedy in the National Assembly from yesterday likely don't understand what's happening. I doubt they are pleased they voted for these people. Imagine today's situation as a labyrinth where we don't see an exit, but as the first door has opened, we've entered. After that, people have yet to learn what follows. I believe we will have a government. First, major inter-party and interpersonal negotiations, conversations, and relationships are currently taking place. Second, Bulgaria needs a stable government. All those people we see sitting in the deputy benches, starting from the largest political force – GERB to the big surprise of the elections, political party Velichie, promised the best for Bulgaria. During the pre-election campaign, they said they would do everything for our country. Then they entered the Parliament and started insulting, arguing, and saying absurd words against one another. Nevertheless, I believe they will form a government, and hopefully, it will be a long-term and withstanding one. I hope they will also tell the world that Bulgaria is a place where one can invest and do business, and people who vote can live better. But not if we only continue to watch this whole comedy and not take any action.

Host: From Mr. Behar's words, it seems there will be a continuation of the situation. This is just one episode, and thank God, shorter than it could have been. But we are moving towards the second episode, in which parliamentary negotiations continue, and discussions with the President are starting. What is your prediction on what will follow? From what I hear, most formations lean more towards the hypothesis of new elections rather than forming an actual cabinet and making efforts for it.

Mina Badzheva: From what I see, we have three alpha males on the field, on whom it depends. These are the leader of GERB, Boyko Borisov, Delyan Peevski from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and Slavi Trifonov, the leader of There is Such a People. They hold the decision, but none want to back down because their electorates are watching them closely. GERB lost 140,000 votes. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms won this time, but in another election in the fall, they certainly won't achieve the same result and will be worse off than they were. They succeeded as the second political force, which is unlikely to happen again. There is Such a People was one of the few that won and regained part of their electorate. If they now form a government in coalition with GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, they will lose their voters, and perhaps it will be the end of the party altogether. That is why they also firmly stay behind their words. I believe Slavi Trifonov and Toshko Yordanov when they say they will only create a government if given the third mandate and will not support the first two mandates. This is because we've seen Trifonov and his party win the elections twice, and there was no government these two times.

Host: But their mandate is in question because it's up to the President to decide whom he will give the third mandate. Can the first two major formations support a third mandate government?

Maxim: I believe there will be a first mandate government. In my opinion, these alpha politicians have already come to a consent. There is no reason to vote the way they did today if there wasn't an agreement between them. And for me, this is the best option for Bulgaria at the moment – there will be a clear and precise coalition, without the so-called "patchwork" agreements behind closed doors with unclear terms. I see no reason not to have a government with a coalition. People have voted and received the results they did. Hopefully, if it's formed, this government will have a clear economic program and send the right messages abroad and to the European Union – for the foreign entrepreneurs to come to Bulgaria, invest, and do business. I see no logical reason why this shouldn't happen. In the end, politicians may argue, but generally, people can argue and still sleep in the same bed. How do we expect them not to when they have political and financial differences, expectations, and so on?

Host: We already see the elected deputy chairmen of the 50th Bulgarian Parliament.

Maxim: I see that some people's dreams of standing at the Parliamentary podium have come true.

Host: What are your final words regarding these politicians and deputies we see in the National Assembly building? What should they know, given the voter turnout? We also launched a poll on NOVANEWS television's social media, asking about people's expectations for the Bulgarian Parliament. And by the answers, we conclude the expectations are not rosy; Bulgarian people, not necessarily strict political observers, predict that we are heading towards another election in the fall.

Maxim: We currently have three political parties, the leading players of which chose the Chairman of the Parliament and have the chance to form a government – GERB, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and There is Such a People. Everything depends on the willingness of these three players, mainly the largest party – GERB. If they want to have a temporary government and continue this lack of power because it benefits them, there will be elections in September. If they want to keep their political word to their voters, they will do everything possible to form a government that can function in Bulgaria and fulfill their promises. This is the big question mark – everyone makes promises, and the elections were less than a month ago. We all remember the endless promises, and then suddenly, they backtrack, and we have new elections.

Host: Thank you!


Watch the full interview here.

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