By Evelina Gecheva
Published on 5 April 2019
Never before Boyko Borisov’s serial government have there been so glaring scandals involving politicians greedy for property. At the dawn of the democratic parliament journalists put a strong focus on the rent-free apartments used by members of parliament and the money the National Assembly spent on their living comfort. Today that is innocent reminiscence in the light of the million-leva-worth of property owned by some expertise-poor incumbents.
We leave aside the question of whether apartment ownership is a measure of prosperity. For Bulgarian politicians it obviously is. The greed for square meters, Jacuzzis and BBQs is their distinguishing feature. It would not be reproachable if we were speaking of business people. But that is not so: we are speaking of people from the public sector who have not spent a day in business and who live on taxpayers’ money.
We also leave aside the question of why it is GERB’s government exactly that abounds with such scandals. It is obviously their style, created and tolerated by the premier leader.
But we cannot leave aside some other questions.
The first is, can the politicians in question prove the origin of the money they used to buy their property? The National Revenue Agency is keeping mum. Obviously, it has not received instructions from above who should be punished and who should be saved.
The other interesting question is about the legal expertise of people like Tsvetanov and Tsacheva and the official who is supposed to check them up, Plamen Georgiev, given that their notary deeds were not in order, the deals were not properly made and obviously legality is not their priority.
The check-up is another important question. Having clarified how strict the head of the Commission for Combating Corruption and the Withdrawal of Illegally Acquired Property (KONPI) Plamen Georgiev is, we come to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor general has to be completely clean-handed to ensure a proper check-up. But who can establish if Tsatsarov’s hands are clean?
The investigation of cases where politicians gain unfair advantage has never been a strength of the Bulgarian state. That is usually the job of journalists and representatives of the non-government sector. That is why the Golden Age of greedy politicians is so long-lasting. Their greed is flourishing and going into politics to get rich is now the norm.
Last but not least, we have a great president. He sees everything, he hears everything but he does almost nothing. His slow political reflex is no longer amusing. It questions the seriousness of the institution. And what is more serious in a state than its being robbed by its own rulers?
The opposition – in and outside the parliament – is no less great. It seems to have other priorities and does not even hint at a large-scale investigation of the property scandal. It asked for two dismissals and that was all. It does not work towards civil protests either. It obviously thinks protests will not change anything. Such an “opposition” behavior needs to be studied by the future political scientists. There is hardly an opposition in the world that can stay passive while the government is making blunders with shady property deals every day.
Now we come to the saddest part: public tolerance. For some unknown reason – genetic or simply a reason of mentality – the Bulgaria public is quite tolerant to the greedy people who go into government allegedly for the benefit of the nation. In none of the neighboring countries, let alone in Western Europe, would people watch that happen passively. In Bulgaria it is known that nothing can be done.
A passive society, some would say, deserves such a fate. It is probably so. But there are people in the vast mass of lookers-on who do not accept that model. There are critical people and active citizens who change some small things – arduously, slowly, painfully.
Such a stalemate will hardly be broken by toppling the government only. Besides, there is obviously no one to topple it. The way to solving the problem passes through external institutional interference. Through an investigation conducted by people to whom 180 sq. m of terrace with a BBQ is not their childhood dream.