Bulgaria | Smelly Sofia

Article published on April 11, 2009
community published
Article published on April 11, 2009
Sofia smells. Heaps of garbage piled up alongside the streets are not unusual. That Bulgaria’s capital has a garbage disposal problem has been known for quite some time. But it reached a new peak in March 2009 when the city’s garbage collector, Novera, accused the city council of not having paid its bills. As a consequence, Novera stopped collecting the garbage for about one week.
Have you ever forgotten to put your garbage can out on the street for the weekly collection? If yes, try to recall the nasty smell and greasy trash oozing out of it after a couple of days…now multiply this by 1.2 million (number of inhabitants of Sofia) and add warm weather of about 25 degrees Celsius (temperature in Sofia). As a result, you get a picture of the situation in Sofia. Yesterday the government even has declared a crisis in the country’s capital because it saw the health of its citizens endangered.

garbage_sofia.jpg But what for heaven’s sake has that got to do with the election of the European Parliament? At this point of time the government is led by Sergei Stanishev of the Socialist party (BSP), in a coalition with NDSV (National Movement under Simeon II., former king of Bulgaria) and DPS (Party of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria). The Bulgarian people are quite unsatisfied with the current government policies, especially because Bulgaria has repeatedly been reproved by the EU to do something about the widespread corruption in the country. For this reason the EU started to withhold subsidiaries in November 2008. In January 2009 the discontentment even lead to violent protests in front of the parliament.

The mayor of Sofia, Boyka Borisov, happens to be the party leader of GERB (“Citizens for a European development of Bulgaria”). This party is most likely to gain the majority of votes in the election of the European parliament as well as in the national elections which are also upcoming this year. By declaring a crisis in the capital, a bad light is thrown on the city’s administration. Even though the garbage problem is clearly visible, mayor Borisov tries to reject the accusations: “Instead of working on measures to counter the impact of the global economic and financial crisis ... the government is busy with pre-election acts and spends state money on that".

So again, it comes down to national problems which will be in the center of the election of the European parliament. Especially in Bulgaria, this election can be seen as a trial for the national elections. The result of the election of the European parliament will function as a public opinion poll for the election which really matters to the Bulgarian people: the election of the Bulgarian parliament.

Image is preserved under a Creative Commons Licence (Klearchos Kapoutsis/flickr).