Bulgaria. At the beginning of the year, Bulgaria was severely affected by the gas crisis caused by a dispute between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, which supplies most of its gas. Several thousand people demonstrated with demands that Bulgaria be allowed to temporarily launch two closed nuclear reactors, which were closed prior to entry into the EU. Another protest in January, directed against Prime Minister Sergei Stanisev’s government, degenerated into riots and more than 30 people were injured. The protesters protested against the slow economic reforms and living in “the EU’s poorest and most corrupt country”.
According to countryaah, dissatisfaction with the Socialist-led coalition government continued during the spring. Ahead of the July 5 parliamentary elections, many instead set their hopes for the center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development in Bulgaria). Party leader Boiko Borisov, former bodyguard and now mayor of the capital Sofia, pledged to take action against corruption. In the election, GERB received unexpectedly strong support, with close to 40 percent of voters voting for the party formed just a few years earlier. The Socialist Party’s Alliance’s Alliance coalition for Bulgaria, which included several small parties, was supported by just under 18 percent, leading to a halving of the number of seats compared to the previous election.
Of the other two parties in the outgoing government coalition, the liberal DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedom), which is mainly supported by Bulgarian Turks, gained just over 14 percent, while the right-wing NDSV (National Movement for Stability and Freedom) fell for the 4 percent strike and remained without seat in parliament. NDSV is the party formed by King Simeon II in 2001 and who won the parliamentary elections that year. The ex-wife was prime minister until 2005, when the party backed up considerably, and then continued as party leader. After the new race, he resigned as party leader. GERB lacked its own majority. There was speculation about a new coalition government, but after three weeks GERB formed a minority government with support in Parliament of three smaller right-wing groups. The head of government was Boiko Borisov.
In late July, the European Commission stated in a new report that corruption and organized crime are still widespread problems. The EU questioned the political will to deal with the problems and identified 21 areas where improvements are needed. Among them were measures against money laundering and mafia murder. In September, the new Parliament decided to investigate earlier payments, contracts and appointments made, especially during the last year of the last Socialist government in power.