site.btaMedia Review: August 19
Trud has a story about voting abroad in the October 2 general elections. It will cost BGN 6.5 million. The number of voting stations with voting machines will be 310 at the most. Foreign Ministry will post officers abroad for the elections, the story says. The information was provided by the Foreign Ministry at a news briefing on Thursday and is reported by other news outlets as well.
24 chasa includes a review of the recent news and events related to the upcoming snap elections on October 2. The daily describes the reasons behind the failed coalition between the former ruling party in Parliament Continue the Change (CC) and their parliamentary coalition partner Democratic Bulgaria (DB), who offered CC an alliance for the upcoming elections. CC’s National Council made a decision after thorough analyses. "We believe that this formula will bring Bulgaria the coalition majority that will finish the work started by the Petkov cabinet," the party's message has said on Thursday evening. The party adds that "Democratic Bulgaria remains a natural ally on the road to change in the country”. The daily writes that rejection of an alliance between the former partners in power was foreshadowed, as opinion polls showed that this would not bring a serious change in the outcome of the vote, and CC was suspiciously long in delaying its response.
Both DB and CC are registered in the elections as coalitions and not as parties. CC has registered with VOLT and the European Middle Class parties, and DB is a coalition between “Yes, Bulgaria”, the Green Movement, and the party Democrats for Strong Bulgaria. The Central Election Committee had explained that an alliance between CC and DB was possible until August 27, but only if parties from one coalition merged into the other. Changes in registrations can only be made between parties in a coalition, not between two separate coalitions, 24 chasa writes as explained by the CEC spokespersons Rositsa Mateva and Tsvetozar Tomov. This means that in order to form a coalition after registration the separate parties in the coalition have to leave their formation and join the other, which can happen both ways – DB’s parties can join CC, and CC’s parties can join DB.
24 parties and 7 coalitions are registered for the October 2 snap elections.
The total number of polling stations abroad will be 734, of which 559 are fully secure, while the remaining 175 require the consent of the host country and are declared conditional at this point, Tomov says. Bulgarians will be able to vote in 61 countries. 42 countries have already given permission to hold elections on their territory, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway and others are waiting. From August 18 until September 6, Bulgarians abroad can submit electronic voting applications. Already in the first hours, more than 3,000 people had already submitted their applications.
Duma has a front-page commentary (“Endless Lies”) that disproves allegations made by GERB leader Boyko Borissov on the campaign trail (that the economy is in tatters, that the energy sector has been messed up by the Kiril Petkov government, that his own government completed the diversification of energy supply to Bulgaria, etc.)
A story in Capital.bg is answering the question of why the opposition in Sofia has sunk into deep political silence. The Sofia mayor’s office and majority in the Municipal Council are controlled by GERB. “A year before the local elections, the opposition in the Municipal Council has gone silent and only the likely pretenders for the Mayor’s office remain vocal. “The voice of the opposition has been rarely heard in the recent months and there is a sense of timelessness before the local elections in 2023. Anything the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Democratic Bulgaria, and Boris Bonev [of the Save Sofia platform] propose crashes into the wall of the majority and that often demotivates them.
24 chasa has announced a series of seven interviews with the leaders of the parties in the previous parliament. Today’s issue includes the interview with the nationalist Vazrazhdane party leader Kostadin Kostadinov. In his interview, he says that CC will fail in the upcoming elections, but not because nobody understands what they are saying, but because everybody saw what they are doing. Further, he criticized GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party saying the former still “stinks” like their 12- year corrupt ruling, and the latter he characterizes as “radioactive”, so no one wishes to get near them. According to Kostadinov, his party is the only one that is capable of fixing diplomatic relations with Russia, because they are the only party that can “state Bulgaria’s conditions to Russia’s face". Kostadinov blames the European Union for driving Bulgaria’s industry to bankruptcy, he says that Bulgaria makes only bread and two traditional pastries (mekitsi and Kazanlak doughnuts), and the rest we import.
Capital.bg has a story entitled “Georgi Cholakov: the New Master of the Court” about the President of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC). According to the author, he is the person who calls the shots in the judiciary while everybody is fixated on Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev. Cholakov has been able “to verticalize a horizontal system and keep it subdued”. The expectations are that the majority in the next Supreme Judicial Council will be under his control.
A front-page story in Duma reports that the government has replaced the management of the State Consolidation Company, ordnance factory VMZ, and Kintex arms trader. The stories that “the political purge has reached” these three companies. The new CEO of the State Consolidation Company Ventseslav Dimitrov, who replaces Smilyana Nitova. Nitova remains on the Board. In an angry reaction, she said that the caretaker government “is taking control of the state-owned companies and beheading the military-industrial complex”. She called the personnel changes “lawlessness and incompetence” and threatened to take the matter to court. On bTV, caretaker Economy Minister Nikola Stoyanov,
who is in charge of the Consolidation Company, denied the accusations and said all managerial changes are made in keeping with the law. Four new members were appointed to the Board of Directors and the old ones were kept. Nitova undersigned the decisions for Kintex and VMZ: how could she contest them, he asked. He had brought a graph showing a dramatic decline in revenue at VMZ and said that is due to slumping production which could either be the result of incompetence or of intentionally pushing the company to failure. BNT received a call in the studio from Kaloyan Metodiev, the chief of the political cabinet of former Economy Minister Kornelia Ninova, who denied the new Minister’s allegations.
Capital.bg reports that a German-owned factory for electronic components is doubling its production facility in the northwestern Bulgarian town of Vidin. The plant and warehouse are worth BGN 14 million. The company is seeing an increase in orders and output, and its revenues have soared to BGN 3.6 million, which has prompted the expansion. Over a year, the number of employees has increased to 200 from 120, and the company plans to hire another 450 in the next four years. Labour is in short supply in Vidin, causing an import of workers from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
In another story, Capital.bg writes about the largest companies in the construction sector. The revenue of the large construction companies has grown by 7% but there is going to be a dramatic decrease this year due to the lack of public procurements. For the first time, the stateowned Avtomagistrali heads the rating of construction companies in Bulgaria. Among the biggest, as always, are the GBS, Groma Hold, Putengineeringstoy – T, Avtomagistrali Hemus, PST Group and Hidrostroy. The boom in housing construction has allowed four companies for housing construction to enter the list.
Sega.bg has an article on an unconventional idea for the election of principals, proposed by Assen Alexandrov, principal of a school in Sofia, in the midst of the crisis with the competitions for nearly 450 principal positions, which were stopped because of a court dispute.
On 1 July, a decree on conducting competitions for the position of principal in state and municipal institutions in the system of pre-school and school education came into force. It provides for a unified system of evaluation and ranking of candidates, aimed at ensuring a transparent competitive procedure based on the merits of the candidates, as until then there were no official written rules. Principals were selected by committees comprising representatives of municipalities and regional education authorities. The new rules are not much different than the previous ones, and they will be evaluated again by the same committees, principals have said at the time.
Alexandrov’s idea entails that the selection of principals is made by teachers and parents. “Maximum 50 points from teachers and maximum of 50 points from parents (school board, community council, or other forms of formal parental representation) in a campaign similar to that for a regional mayor”, Sega.bg quotes Alexandrov from a Facebook post on the topic. “Since we don't trust the state, let the citizens (teachers and parents) decide by themselves. And what other choice could be more transparent, uncorrupted, and unchallenged?" he asks.
Many teachers and principals approve of Alexandrov's idea. Some suggest that the evaluation of parents and teachers should only be a component of the overall evaluation. Others, however, say his idea will eliminate young, new and less known candidates, while others say it relies on people's love, which is subjective and momentary.
The article also highlights the lack of candidates saying that in Gabrovo there are only 3 candidates for 7 schools, in Dobrich - only 5 candidates for 12 schools, and in Smolyan - 6 candidates for 12 vacant positions.
Alexandrov comments that current principals will be given the opportunity to serve on an interim basis. But it is worrying at the beginning of the school year when the documentation has to be prepared. According to him, no school will remain without a principal, but the problem is that some are at retirement age, and others are temporary. The suspension of competitions is a bad precedent for him, as they can start dragging like public procurements.
Duma has the story as well.
A report on Bulgarian National Television (BNT) from the vineyards in the southern Sandanski region showed that grapes harvesting is off to a good start. The crop is good, but the costs are high due to the high energy costs and there is a shortage of qualified farm workers. Our best grapes picker is 80-year-old, and the problem will worsen every year. Fortunately, we have several students from the local school of farming working during the harvesting and hopefully, they stay with us, said a vineyard owner.
The yield is 10-15% better than the last one.
Farmers don’t expect the purchase price to be higher than last year despite the higher costs.
Capital.bg has a story entitled “The Cost of Drought in Europe”. It says that a long spell has brought down water levels in the largest rivers across Europe, causing dramatic consequences in industry, freight transport, and food production. The cost of river transport has gone up. Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia have started emergency dredging in the Danube.
Another story in Capital.bg says that the energy sector and farming are getting the brunt of the dry weather. The water reservoirs which produce electricity for the National Electricity Company saw a decrease in inflow by 37% in the first half of 2022. This year’s harvest is expected to drop by 15% from last year. Underground water has been drying up in most farming areas in the summer months, the story says.
In a Bulgarian National Radio interview, Stoyan Mihov, the leader of the Water programme of WWF, explains the effect of drought on plants and animals. Due to the record low level of the Danube, waterfowl are seriously threatened, especially in the wetlands. The river was so low last spring that the wetlands were not flooded and birds were unable to nest.
Other countries report risks to the functioning of N-plants that use cooling water from the Danube. All this is caused by global warming. The forecast is not good because the area has been among the regions with the worst prospects for drought in the next 20-30 years, Mihov said.
Former Defence Minister Todor Tagarev is asked on bTV whether there has been a turnaround of the war in Ukraine. He explains the causes for some recent victories of the Ukraine armed forces (military equipment, guerilla war). It is hard to say how much longer the war will last. Tagarev also said that one of the reasons for the intense operations in the Herson area is that Russia is planning some kind of a referendum and preparing to annex these territories. He believes that Russia will try to at least annex the regional centre Herson.