"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it", said Aristotle. It seems, in this day and age, that so many of us have forgotten this principle. So, given that I hold you all in great regard, let us try to entertain some thoughts without committing to any of them.
First of all, the thought of a possible government in this parliament. It seems out of reach at the moment. Yet there are several options available. The GERB leader can try a coalition with the Turkish MRF and the newly-formed Bulgarian Rise. With the subtle help of the fringe Vazhrazhdane who might abstain from the vote, such a government could pass. Or the second-placed WCC could actually try to form a coalition government with Democratic Bulgaria and the Socialists, and seek the support of GERB. And third, there might be a government formed on the sole basis of a "to-do-list'' in the next 6-8 months, before the local elections.
All these options are extremely fragile and depend on lots of "ifs" (what is to be included in the to-do list for example). Yet they are not impossible. There might be a government in this parliament, if a common denominator is found.
Second on our list of contemplations is the need for a government. You might shudder at the prospect of GERB returning to government, or of MRF supporting any effort of WCC and DB. You might really dislike BSP's shaky stance on Russia (we will come back to that).
Yet you need to entertain the thought of having some form of government that will deal with two separate types of problems - European ones and local ones.
In Brussels, we need a strong voice when crucial decisions are being made - entry into Schengen, sanctions, new business models. In Sofia, someone needs to admit the budget is going astray and do something about it. If we go on in a similar vein, we will either need to raise taxes, raise the deficit or cut expenditure. Each of those has pros and cons, but a political decision needs to be made nonetheless. Right now the caretaker government is doing the bare minimum - dipping its toes in the debt markets and getting less and less room for maneuvering.
And third, let us admit, that if none of that works, then we will end up with the President ruling unchecked for yet another six months. And then start to entertain another thought - should we officially change the system towards awarding an election bonus to the winner or towards a Presidential republic. Each of those also has pros and cons. Yet we need to at least think about it. Staying in limbo forever is not a viable option.
We might be early to this debate, I admit.
Or, on second thought, we might be a bit late?
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POLITICS Russia is back on the agenda!
Exhibit 1: The Bulgarian "connection" in Kerch bridge attack
The debris from the explosion on the strait bridge was still falling, when a Kremlin-appointed investigation committee announced that the alleged detonating truck had crossed Bulgaria (among other countries). Russian President Vladimir Putin personally blamed "foreign secret services" for conspiring with the Ukrainians to carry out what he called an act of terror (and for which he decimated 30% of Ukraine's energy plants in subsequent bombing).
It took some time for the authorities here to answer that. In that vacuum, Moscow's old ally in Sofia, the Socialist party, called for an investigation into the potential link. "In this growing atmosphere of confrontation, sending a quick and clear signal that would not allow Bulgaria to be involved in any way in the conflict is crucial," BSP said.
The investigation was indeed quick and clear - the truck hasn't been to Bulgaria. But the Kremlin changed its version and now claims only the cargo crossed Bulgaria on the way to Georgia, and then - the occupied peninsula.
Exhibit 2: Dear old Mitrofanova confused the new Parliament even before it convenes
The 48th National Assembly should, as tradition dictates, invite all Ambassadors on its first day. Yet do you invite the Russian representative? To most of the parties, the obvious answer was 'no\. But not to everyone.
On Wednesday, Democratic Bulgaria MP Nadezhda Yordanova proposed not extending an invitation to Eleonora Mitrofanova. Several GERB members also said that they were, in fact, against inviting the Ambassador from the outset. Yet their fellow partyman Vezhdi Rashidov (who will preside over the first session as the oldest MP) equated not inviting Ms Mitrofanova to a "declaration of war".
In the end, the "leading Euro-Atlanticist" and ex-PM Boyko Borissov recorded a video in which he said GERB MPs would leave the session if the Russian Ambassador entered the building. In the end, the invitation was not sent.
Nota Bene: it seems that Borissov is feeling at ease with his newfound anti-Russian fervor. Yet bear in mind that he changes his mind every now and then and has spent years cozying up to whomever he deemed important. His electorate knows this, his party knows it and, we bet, outside powers also know it.
How NOT to build highwaysThe quality of Bulgaria's major infrastructure road projects has long been dubious, but this week we got the first physical proof - about 30-35 cm (or about a quarter) of the asphalt in two highway sections of "Trakia" are missing.
An investigation by the Regional and Internal ministry has found that "the thickness of the road is visibly less and some of the materials used are visibly mismatched". According to the two institutions, 12.5% of the thickness of the road structure of Lot 2 and 17.5% of the thickness of Lot 3 are missing in the 67 kilometers of highway surveyed. In monetary terms, just over 40 million levs are missing.
Those parts were built 10 years ago, during the first GERB government. Their warranty is long gone, and the money probably - too. But this is a useful reminder of what we are running (not driving) from.
EconomyExports are keeping up the pace
Despite all the doom-talk, Bulgarian exports are still running high, with yet another record in August. They surpassed 62 billion levs, which is 41.6% higher than last year, although some of that is inflation, of course.
3%Is the IMF forecast for the Bulgarian economy next year. Which might not sound too much, but bear in mind that in most parts of the world that would feel like a recession.
The brick producer has registered 58% growth in 2021, which makes it the leader of the pack. In the sector, all 10 biggest companies are growing, yet registering a smaller profit. This was due to energy prices which began growing late last year. One would imagine 2022 will be a lot worse.
WATCH OUT FORPerson: Plamen Nenov
An economics professor in Norwegian Business School and also since this week - the head of the new Expert council for economic analysis. The council was announced by deputy prime minister Atanas Pekanov (himself an economist) and will be formed in the next few weeks. Its goal will be to produce expert long-term analysis for the state.
Is the name of the new Bulgarian club in the North Macedonian town of Ohrid, which has been attacked by local patriots. The case produced another wave of anger in Bulgaria, but to be honest - what was it that they expected, when they named the club after the guy under whose (even formal) supervision thousands of local jews were sent to Nazi camps.
PlaceVeliko Tarnovo Is the next Bulgarian city to have an IKEA outlet. The Swedish chain, which is operated by a Greek company here, already has 6 stores in the country, with the primary one in Sofia.
WORD of the weekКостя Копейкин (Kostya Kopeikin)
The derogatory nickname of Vazrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov - Kopeikin, referring to the Russian coins (kopeyka), used to mock him for his pro-Russian allegiance and potential source of financial support - rebounded on him again this week. This spung from an attempt by members of his party to register the combination of words as a trademark (supposedly to shield him from mockery). When exposed, they tried to turn it into a positive. The "Kostya Kopeikin" trademark was the name of a charitable foundation.
"The focus will be to support children in the sphere of literature and arts. It will be financed by donations and by the money we win in libel court cases," Vazrazhdane member Deyan Nikolov told bTV.