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Borissov is history. What will become of the "Borissov" model?

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Borissov is history. What will become of the "Borissov" model?

On May 12 of this year Boyko Borissov left the Council of Ministers, maybe never to return. After 12 years in power and three terms as Prime Minister Borissov has now entered history as the longest running PM in the last 30 years. A period in which the "Borissov" government model was established – a well-rounded corruptive mechanism for allocating the billions from the national budget and the EU funds towards a chosen group of businesses.

The mass civil protests last summer against the government and the Prosecutor General failed to take down the "Borissov" model. The government successes in finishing it full turm and did not allow snap elections to take place, which would have been organized by a provisional government appointed by President Roumen Radev.

Snap elections will take place, though, one year later – on July 11 2021, after the Parliament - elected during the regular elections on April 4 2021 – failed to nominate and vote in a new Cabinet.

When announcing the provisional government, President Radev said:

"[This Cabinet] proves what regretfully the last Parliament failed to achieve: that it is possible for [people] of different [political] colors to overcome the outdated divides and red lines between them and to unite around the cause of a free and just Bulgaria."

Announcement of the new provisional government at the Presidency building 

The members of the provisional government are trusted people of the President like his recent defense secretary General Stefan Yanev, who is PM and his security adviser Boyko Rashkov – who became deputy PM in charge of public safety and order, and Minister of Interior. Two Harvard alumni – Kiril Petkov and Asen Vassilev – took over the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy. All members of the provisional government are well established professionals and experts in their respective fields. The only party-affiliate of the whole Cabinet is Yanaki Stoilov – now Minister of Justice. He is a long-time member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which nominated Radev for President back in 2016.

Given the harsh attacks by GERB for years that a provisional government, formed by Radev can only produce revenge, crisis and chaos, the temporary executive power seems balanced, expert-focused, and promising. So much so that even Boyko Borissov gave praise to his political rival President Roumen Radev for his "wonderful choice" and even regrated that the dismantled 4-th Parliament had failed to nominate such a government.

The tasks, which the President defined for the provisional government are: "To guarantee the normal function of the country. To ensure fair elections, declaring war on the bought vote. To uncover, as much as possible given its two-month lifecycle, the real picture of the state of the country. And most importantly – to take the first step towards procuring of the statehood. To give Bulgarians the assurance that the country can be governed honestly, transparently and responsibly."

The public expectations were for the President to task his ministers with a revision of the Borissov-3 government, to uncover corruptive schemes, misuses and guilt. Such an assignment was not expressed as such but the public is yet to see what the provisional government will show to be "the real picture of the state of the country".

Expectations for reveals increased after large scale agriculture business owners decided to testify in front of the Parliamentary committee for checks of the Borissov government, about the vicious ties between government and businesses, about racketeering and repressions by the state and its subordinate "independent regulators" against businesses, as well as Borissov’s role in the entire scheme.

Svetoslav Ilchovski testifies in fron of the Parliament committee for revision of the Borissov-3 government

The assumptions are that after Borissov no longer is in power, others will come forward.

The problem, however, is that at the end of the day, all of the information about abuse of power and corruption will have to be checked and investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office, whose head Ivan Geshev has until now acted mostly as a tool of the vicious model.

If we are now witnessing the first steps of dismantaling this model, the big question then becomes on this process will continue after the elections. The new powerful player in the political stage is the party There Is Such a People, led by the TV show personality Slavi Trifonov. The party came second in the last elections, which was the party’s first time running – but obviously its ambition is to win. This was leader Trifonov’s reasoning when he explained why his party declined to nominate a minority government in the last Parliament, which lasted a total of three weeks. Trifonov refused the support from every party, including GERV, insisting that Trifonov would only govern with the parties, which are fighting the status quo – namely Democratic Bulgaria and Rise Up! Thugs Out!

Slavi Trifonov

It is not out of the question for Trifonov’s party to win the July 11 elections but the question of how and with whom he would govern is becoming more and more complicated. Firstly, because the party’s only declared political goal to date is to "rip out" GERB from the political stage. This cannot be achieved in the foreseeable future because GERB in all likelihood will remain a significant factor in the next Parliament.

It will not be surprising if GERB again wins the elections but returning to power seems highly improbable, even if its allies from the far right manage to pass the threshold ang get into Parliament – something they failed to do these last elections.

Even if it comes to this, however, there is no doubt that Boyko Borissov will not be PM. He might try to steer a future Cabinet of his, and provide himself the security to not be investigated for things he has done while holding the post of PM. But even so, Borissov has been the engine of the recent model of governance and without him, this model cannot be sustained. This is the good news for Bulgaria in the extremely unlikely scenario that GERB forms the next government.

Boyko Borissov at GERB's recent party meeting. GERB's slogan for these elections in the back reads "Work, work, work! (Работа, работа, работа!) 

A far more important point is the actual demise of the "Borissov" model and laying out the ground for an honest and trustworthy governance, which abide by the rules and work in the interest of the people. There are deep and lasting – and with good reason – suspicions that any new government, which has come to power with the promise of to demolish the corruptive schemes at the end of the day only changes the players in them.

Obviously, President Roumen Radev will play a serious role for the future development of the country. This fall he will run for second term in office and will likely recieve support fro Slavi Trifonov’s party, atop of the support of BSP, which he already has. In the last year of his first term Radev managed to position himself as the only institution in the country, which is not tied to the corruptive model. During the protests last summer, Radev won the trust from the liberal right parties and their supporters, who recognized an ally in him in the fight for taking back the "captured state".

His provisional government has the ambition to show that this is possible.

According to Evgeni Daynov – a pundit and a political science professor – "the President framed one possible, future government, demonstrating that it is possible for people to unite not on the basis of political ideology but on the grounds that there must be an honest government to restore the rule of law".

It remains to be seen if the provisional government meets these expectations.

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