Bulgarian and Romanian Civil Society Street Propaganda: Who’s Got the Best?

Geographically, they are sharing Romania’s Southern border, the floating troubled Danube and the Black Sea. Politically, they have entered as two impatient newlyweds into the European Union enlargement process managing to integrate some larger EU stamped borders in 2007. Both of them managed to convince NATO of their strategic place on the world map and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization holding hands on 29 March 2004. Both of them have a communist legacy to bear and tackle in economic, cultural and social strata.

Romania and Bulgaria have struggled to get ahead after the EU-27 moment considering access to the Schengen area. The EU always considers them jointly in this respect and so many others. So do the EFTA countries. So do Swiss authorities when establishing work permit restrictions different criteria for the two lost sheep of Europe.

They share a lot of other similarities. Last year, Romania’s Democrat Liberal PM Emil Boc and his entire Cabinet resigned following precisely one month of public street demonstrations against austerity measures inflicted in 2010 and never fully explained and accepted by the population. Last week, Bulgarian PM Boiko Borisov announced the Parliament that the entire Cabinet in office is resigning over civil society protests that lasted some 10 days.

Bulgarian riot police is seen amidst smoke coming from a firecracker, thrown by demonstrators during a protest against high electricity prices in Sofia February 19, 2013.Credit: REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Bulgarian riot police is seen amidst smoke coming from a firecracker, thrown by demonstrators during a protest against high electricity prices in Sofia February 19, 2013.
Credit: REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

“We have dignity and honour. Our people have granted us the power, now we’re giving it back”, proclaimed the ex-PM in midst of MPs. Yesterday, some 30 Bulgarian civil society representatives, originating from last week organized protests, said that they want some 50% parliamentary representatives and the possibility for deputies to lose their immunity before ending their office. The civil society leaders said that their present task originates from 23 years of post-communism problems that have turned common people into beggars.

Pretty much the same scenario took place in Romania last year when the whole Cabinet resigned on 6 February 2012. They said it was because of protests. The whole European and international media flocked together and gloriously announced that the PEOPLE managed to upstage austerity leaders and make themselves heard. Unlikely, though as resignation only followed some 30 days after the first protests took place.

Some months afterwards one of the relevant leaders from the Opposition that took the Power, Viorel Hrebenciuc carelessly announced that they [political parties] have tried to do a similar thing to the Arab Spring in Piata Universitatii in winter 2012 but that some things went through, others did not. Don’t you wonder how the public square appeared?. A crowd stays some 2 or 3 days in the square, then it starts to like it. Booze kiosks become available

Viorel Hrebenciuc made these assertions while present at a RoNewMedia conference talking about online media, just some hours later Hrebenciuc thought he needed to specify that he was not talking about how people may be politically manipulated.

Of course not, however street protests originated from online or Facebook initiatives and only then took to the streets. Analyzing Hrebenciuc’s position and the way people took to the streets from online engagement in winter 2012, it is quite clear that this was not a completely civil society owned move. It simply was not authentic civil society due to significant mixed interests, however it was built on people’s existing and flagrant discontent with political parties in office. To think that it all sparked to the streets from a mere Cluj-Napoca projected crematory is just hilarious.

We might wonder how were the things in Bulgaria these days if resignation took place over only 10 days of violent protests. Did civil society leaders own it exclusively or did some rotten political influence play with subtlety its involvement? And just how will they manage power vacuum?

Bulgarians say they are tired of being reduced to being the beggars of Europe. Romanians said the same thing last winter. They were then backed, although not overtly, by politicians who committed to turn those promises into laws once in power. None of this ever became true, not fully.

About Cristina Popa

Cristina is a WordPress blogger who regularly writes or shares updates on media, public affairs and various topics of interest. You may follow her on Communication for Development WP blog or Twitter @CristinaPopa0
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