After World War II, the monarchy was
abandoned and Bulgaria became a Communist one-party
state. The country cooperated closely with the Soviet
Union. When Communism collapsed in Central and Eastern
Europe 1989-1881, multi-party was held. A period of
social and political unrest followed, but the situation
stabilized gradually. Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007.
Since then, the country has been under special
surveillance to deal with widespread corruption and
By the time the Second World War ended, the
Communists had seized power in Bulgaria. In 1946,
Bulgaria was declared a people's republic after a
questionable referendum and King Simeon fled. In the
first elections of the same year, the Fosterland Front,
dominated by the Communist Party, received over 70
percent of the vote. Communist Party Party Secretary
Georgi Dimitrov became Prime Minister. In 1947, a new
constitution was introduced following the Soviet model.
The multi-party system was abolished, the Communist
Party and its support party The Agrarian Party became
the only allowed parties and dissenters were persecuted.
Major purges were carried out and over 2,000 people were
sentenced to death.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Bulgaria. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
Through the Western Front, which also included trade
unions, youth organizations and other mass
organizations, the Communist Party controlled the entire
society. After the death of Soviet leader Josef Stalin
in 1953, some of the most hard-line politicians
disappeared from the party summit, but the abandonment
of the policies pursued during the Stalin era went
slower here than elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
A collective leadership following the Soviet model
was introduced in 1954. The party leader post went to
Todor Zhivkov, who came to dominate Bulgarian politics
for over 30 years. The country became one of the most
loyal allies of the Soviet Union. Planning economics
were introduced, the land was collectivized and a heavy
industry was built up.
Stagnation and democratization
In the early 1980s, the economy began to stagnate,
which increased dissatisfaction with the regime.
Bulgaria was affected from the middle of the decade by
the reform policy of the USSR's new openness in the
Soviet Union. In 1987, Zhivkov launched a Bulgarian
variant of the reform policy, perestroika, launched by
Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev (see RUSSIA:
Modern History). The Bulgarian opposition also began to
act more actively for political reforms. In the 1988
local elections, the Communist Party allowed for the
first time that independent candidates were nominated.
These received about a quarter of the votes.
Political activity in the country increased
dramatically. New opposition groups were formed, and
journalists and cultural workers demanded greater
transparency. The environmental movement Ekoglasnost was
given an important role, as was the independent trade
union movement Podkrepa and organizations that worked
for human rights and increased religious freedom.
Now the Turkish minority also openly protested
against the regime's repression. The Bulgarian Turks had
been disadvantaged for almost the entire communist era,
but their situation was made more difficult during the
regime's "Bulgarian campaign" in 1984 (see Population
When the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989, the
government was hard pressed by opposition forces and the
reformist within the Communist Party saw a chance to
act. In an internal " palace coup " Zhivkov was
overthrown and replaced in November by Foreign Minister
Petar Mladenov, leader of the coup. Following the
takeover of power, Mladenov promised major political and
economic changes as well as taking environmental
problems seriously. In December 1989, the Communist
Party renounced its power monopoly and gave opposition
parties the right to operate freely. The authorities
also abolished the 1984 laws that legitimized the
discrimination of Bulgarian Turks.
A number of new parties merged in the Alliance of
Democratic Forces Union (UDF). These were groups of
diverse interests, united in the fight for continued
democratization, for market economy and against
communism. Alongside these parties were the Agrarian
Party, which left its role as a support party to the
Communists and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS),
which primarily served the interests of the Bulgarian
Turks and Pomaks (see Population and Languages).
In February 1990, over 200,000 protesters in Sofia
demanded that the Communists surrender power. The
government was forced to introduce multi-party systems
and announce elections. The Communist Party had then
changed its name to the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)
and switched to a more reform-friendly policy.
In the first democratic elections in June 1990, the
BSP won a majority of the seats in Parliament. Shortly
thereafter, Mladenov, who was named president in the
spring, was forced to resign after it was revealed that
in December 1989 he proposed that military be deployed
against protesters. He was replaced by former dissident
and philosophy professor Zhelju Zhelev, leader of the
Following a strike that threatened to cripple the
entire society, in November 1990 the Socialist
government resigned and was replaced by a broad
coalition government, led by the lawyer Dimitar Popov.
As a result of the regime change, it became clear
that Bulgaria had major economic problems. The
centralized economy with state-owned enterprises and
collective agriculture was rigid and inefficient and
growth was negative. The country was also drawn with a
huge foreign debt. The problems worsened when the
trading system in Eastern Europe collapsed. During the
communist period, a large part of the trade took place
through the exchange of goods within the eastern bloc.
During the economic transformation that took place
during the transition to a market economy, the countries
were forced to start paying each other with hard
currency, that is, money that has a secure value in the
international market such as dollars, which was a scarce
commodity in the Eastern Bloc.
The new powers in Bulgaria initiated economic reforms
and a comprehensive privatization program. The reforms
were largely in line with the loan terms set by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist Bulgaria
In a recent election in 1991, an anti-communist
alliance between UDF and DPS prevailed. The first
democratic presidential election in January 1992 was won
The following period was marked by instability in
Parliament, and promised privatizations came of age. In
October 1992, the UDF government lost a vote of
confidence in Parliament. The party politically
unbounded Ljuben Berov then led a government, supported
by BSP and DPS. Under Berov's rule, several former
communist politicians and senior officials were charged
with embezzling state funds. Among these were
ex-President Zhivkov, who in 1994 was sentenced to seven
years in prison.
The bereavement government resigned in the fall of
1994 after losing the support of BSP and President
Zhelev. In December, parliamentary elections were held
for the third time in five years. The BSP, which was
still dominated by former communists, returned to power
through promises of economic recovery without major cuts
in social welfare.
In the mid-1990s, Bulgaria was characterized by
demonstrations and social concerns. The privatization
programs were not implemented, and the economy
deteriorated, among other things, the government debt
grew sharply and the currency, living, fell rapidly.
In the wake of the economic crisis, protests against
the government increased. Inflation was up in several
hundred percent, the currency was in free fall and the
central government debt was galloping. The banking
system was in acute crisis. In some places the food
shortage was so great that there was talk of famine.
Mass demonstrations continued throughout the country
with demands for new elections to Parliament. The unrest
culminated when protesters entered Parliament in January
1997. Violence erupted and around 200 people were
The socialists now agreed on a new election, which
was held in April. Victors became a bourgeois alliance
in which the UDF was the core. UDF leader Ivan Kostov
was appointed prime minister.
The new government accelerated economic reforms and
privatizations. The economy began to stabilize slowly
and positive growth was noted in 1998. At the same time,
unemployment rose, which reduced the support for the
government. To the discontent, in 1999 the government
supported NATO's military alliance's intervention in the
Kosovo crisis (see Foreign Policy and Defense). One
consequence of the war there was that the EU wanted to
accelerate membership of Balkan countries, and
negotiations with Bulgaria began in early 2000.
Ex-king of power
The UDF-led government of 1997 became the first since
the fall of communism to sit an entire term of office.
Before the 2001 parliamentary elections, however, a new
player emerged on the political scene - the former King
Simeon II. He had settled in Spain after the national
escape in 1946, at the age of nine. As an adult, he had
established himself there as a businessman. At the age
of 64, Simeon returned to Bulgaria and formed in April
2001 a political party, the National Movement
Simeon II (NDSV), who ran for
Simeon's election promises of higher living standards
and the fight against corruption received support from
the Bulgarians, who are tired of poverty and of the old
corrupt politicians. In the election, NDSV received 43
percent of the vote and exactly half of the mandate. By
accepting the post of prime minister, Simeon
acknowledged Bulgaria's position as a republic. With his
royal origins in the Saxon-Coburg-Gotha princes, his
name became Simeon Sakskoburggotski.
A coalition government was formed by NDSV, DPS and
two members of the Socialist Party. Simeon's government
had several political successes during its four years in
power. In the spring of 2004, Bulgaria became a member
of NATO and in June of that year the negotiations for EU
membership were basically completed. The economy
improved and unemployment dropped significantly, but the
government could not live up to the high expectations of
the public. Corruption was still widespread, as was the
crime and most Bulgarians did not experience an improved
standard of living.
The return of the left
NDSV lost big when parliamentary elections were held
in June 2005. Voter support more than halved. Victory
made the Coalition for Bulgaria, a
left-wing alliance dominated by the Socialist Party and
won 31 percent of the vote. The ultranationalist
dissatisfaction party , Attack,
entered the Parliament with 8 percent.
A new center-left government was formed with BSP
leader Sergei Stanisev as prime minister.
In September 2006, Bulgaria received the EU
membership sign, albeit with several reservations.
Brussels felt that the fight against corruption and
organized crime was too slow and that legal security was
still too weak. Therefore, as a member of the Union, the
country would also be subject to scrutiny and
continuously forced to report the fight against crime
and corruption. Failure to meet the requirements would
result in penalties in the form of withdrawn EU
Bulgaria joined the EU on January 1, 2007. But the EU
continued to express strong dissatisfaction. As early as
the first year, the European Commission decided to
withhold agricultural and regional aid due to lack of
anti-corruption measures. Nevertheless, several
corruption cases were invented and a number of
high-ranking persons were allowed to leave their posts
in 2007 and 2008. In several cases, it was about
contacting mafia organizations and involvement in drug
Among those appointed who were forced to resign were
several ministers, including Interior Minister Rumen
Petkov, who was charged with conspiracy with the mafia
and involvement in drug trafficking. In the same vein, a
writer who wrote about the mafia and a business
representative were murdered, which helped the EU
sharpen its tone against Bulgaria.
There were also suspicions that organized crime had
infiltrated the EU's support system. In 2008, the EU
first decided to withhold over € 500 million in funding
so far, and later to withdraw almost half of the money.
No other EU state had ever happened before.
The right wins the election
The Bulgarians were hit hard in the wake of the
global financial crisis in 2008. The left government was
forced into cuts, which caused great dissatisfaction.
Protests against poverty and corruption degenerated in
early 2009 into riots, with many injured.
Prior to the July 2009 elections, large parts of the
right-wing opposition gathered in a new Conservative
party, Citizens for European Development in Bulgaria
(Gerb). In the election, Gerb got 40 percent of the
vote, which was almost enough for his own majority in
parliament. The Left Alliance suffered a stinging
defeat. Voter support more than halved. Another big
loser was NDSV, which now became out of place in
The winner of the election was Gerb's leader Bojko
Borisov, a former bodyguard who has been Sofia's mayor
since 2005. Borisov now became the leader of a minority
government, supported by some smaller right-wing
In 2010, the budget deficit grew and the government
tried to cut public sector spending, introduce wage cuts
and reduce pensions, but the measures were met by
protests and the government retreated.
The presidential election in autumn 2011 was won by
Gerb's candidate Rosen Plevneliev, former Minister of
Regional Development. With Plevneliev at the
presidential post, Gerb got a strong grip on the
country's politics, although the president's role is
In the summer of 2012, the European Commission issued
its most critical report to date on the shortcomings of
the Bulgarian authorities' efforts to combat organized
crime. According to the report, Bulgarian criminal
leagues, which target human trafficking and credit card
fraud, had settled into 15 EU countries. The EU wrote
that the mafia networks had a "unique" position in the
Bulgarian society with a great influence on the
Protests and recent elections
In the winter of 2013, Bulgaria was shaken by
protests in all major cities against sharply increased
electricity prices. Soon, dissatisfaction was directed
at austerity and politicians in general. When the
violence in February broke out between protesters and
police, the government resigned. New elections were
announced in May.
The election ended with a deadlock in Parliament.
Gerb was again given the most mandate but soon gave up
trying to create a new government. The process ended
with the formation of an expert government under the
leadership of former Finance Minister Plamen Oresjarski.
The government consisted of BSP and DPS, and counted
with support in Parliament by the right-wing party
Attack. The new government announced measures to reduce
poverty after years of austerity and promised to work
Just a few weeks after the government took office in
mid-June, new street protests erupted. The reason was
that the government appointed a corruption-suspected
media mogul, Deljan Peevski, as the new head of the
security service Dans. The reaction became so intense
that Peevski immediately withdrew.
But the criticism did not subside and the
demonstrations continued, against corruption,
mismanagement and poor living conditions. A pent-up
frustration after years of cuts took drastic expression.
At least five people have died since they lit a fire on
themselves in protest. Demonstrations continued
The EU elections in May 2014 became a severe setback
for BSP, which led to DPS withdrawing its support. A
threatening banking crisis worsened the already
difficult economic situation (see Economy) and by the
end of July, Oresjarski resigned.
When the new elections were held in October, Gerb
again became the largest party and could form a minority
government with the newly formed right-wing Alliance
Reformist bloc and the center-left group ABV. The
government was supported in Parliament by the
Nationalist Patriotic Front, which included right-wing
Attack now. Bojko Borisov returned as prime minister.