Behind #ДАНСwithMe – The Protests In Bulgaria

#дансwithmeWhat’s the #ДАНСwithMe thing you’ve been posting around?” – that is the question a few foreign friends of mine have been asking me these last few days. I thought a lot about it and despite the increasing foreign media coverage, I sat down and wrote this post on happening in Bulgaria in the past week or so.

It has been 6 days since the first #ДАНСwithMe protest. What sparked the avalanche of discontent was the appointment of Delyan Peevski as the head of the State Agency for National Security. Why? I will get to that later in the post. Beforehand…

The events in the last few months in a nutshell…

The ruling party during the last 3 and a half years – the center-right party GERB resigned in February after another wave of protests related to high electricity bills, issues with poverty and unemployment and corruption scandals. Frankly, back then I thought that was a logical political move. I am not very politically savvy, but I reckon if they had kept pushing on, they would have lost their already pretty shaky positions in the public.

The resignation led to electing a …substituting government for a few months and preliminary elections on the 12th of May this year, when 42 parties competed for “the love of the nation”. Yeah, 42.  The four parties which made it to the parliament were:

  • GERB (30,5%)
  • BSP (The Bulgarian Socialist Party – 26,6%)
  • DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedom – a party created on ethnic basis, 11.3%)
  • Ataka (a nationalistic party, 7.3%)

Unable to form a cabinet due to an insufficient number of spots in the parliament, Boyko Borisov – the leader of GERB handed the mandate to the next party BSP which in coalition with DPS and the informal support of Volen Siderov (leader of Ataka) formed the new cabinet. That was quite surprising as the latter was constantly in opposition against DPS and BSP altogether. After all his whole campaign was based on populist promises and anti-ethnic …crap.

#ДАНСwithMe origins

As I said earlier, the protests were triggered by the appointment of Delyan Peevski as a head of the State Agency for National Security. Peevski – a son of one of the most powerful media moguls and owner of a numerous media has been involved with corruption scandals before. So, basically a person born in 1980, who has been fired by Sergey Stanishev  (the leader of BSP) and has been investigated twice by DANS (the State Agency for National Security) was chosen for 15 minutes as its new head. Moreover, just a days before the appointment, the new government changed the requirements which a person had to fulfill in order to be able to take such position – years of experience etc. I won’t dig more into the autobiography of mr. Peevski because otherwise this post will turn into a novel.

#ДАНСwithMe came right on time – exactly on the day when Facebook rolled out their hashtag feature. Why am I saying that? The thing is that in Bulgaria, Facebook is times more popular social platform than Twitter, so those hashtags really improved the flow of communication between the people. And the hashtag itself? It’s a play on words and it comes from a popular (I guess) reality show called Dance With Me.

The protests

I am really lucky that my 3 weeks between graduation and working abroad happened exactly on the dates when those historical changes are happening and I can experience everything first hand. On 14th of June within a few hours, backed by personal blogs, social media posts, shares, retweets, likes and… the old school word of mouth (for the elderly people), the idea behind the protests came to life. I cannot say what the situation in the small cities is, but in the capital Sofia and my home town Plovdiv there are thousands of people on the streets. Needless to say, Sofia is dominating.

Men, women, youngsters and lots of animals. Discontent, angry but peaceful and genuinely positive. Those are the majority of the people you will meet on the street. Somebody said “the protest – the new social platform”. People talk, dance, shout, help each other. People express themselves. Most importantly – people succeed in spotting the provocateurs and isolate them. They use their human right to express their opinion without bothering, disturbing and destroying. So are others, who don’t agree/protest. This is the way things should be.

The actions of the police have so far been exactly what they should be – keeping things calm and peaceful. There was a short interview on the national TV and officers said that with few exceptions (usually paid provocateurs), people are really positive and greet them and bring water.  Hell, there were few cases when protesters gave flowers to the female officers of the law. How cool is that?

At every moment when politicians are not doing the job they are chosen for – they must go. I cannot even estimate how long those protests will go on. But those protests are not to return the old politicians back. No. They are for a radical change of the political class in Bulgaria. When new political class comes on the scene and they suck so bad as well – people will protest again. And again. And I really hope that eventually things will get better.

Perfect example for my words above is Sabina Panayotova‘s awesome Storify:

Categories: Life As We Know It,