GERB and BSP on a populist face-off, NOVA TV is changing its contracts with investigative journalists, The Netherlands still not allowing Bulgaria in Schengen

 mediapool.bg

Commentary:   Dribbling along the populist playground The elections are over but PM Boyko Borissov’s flair for populist ideas bordering the dangerously disruptive is as busy as ever. One would think the immediate weeks after the elections would tone down the most outrageous undertakings. But the main parties in Parliament keep at it all the same.   On one of the two days Movements for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) MP Delyan Peevski stepped foot in Parliament, he said his party was contemplating a bill to lower VAT on bread and make kindergartens free of charge. It might sound terribly inadequate for a number of reasons, but also – surely the news focused more on it for the mere fact that Peevski delivered the message, rather than the actual substance of the statement. Peevski is so rarely seen at all, let alone recorded by the media, that one could expect his quote on the weather to get more coverage than a story of actual substance or consequence.   But regardless of the coverage, on the surface it still seemed relatively harmless: the enigmatic Peevski, a media mogul, notoriously the face of Bulgaria as a captured state, sets foot in his place of work for the third time in two years, and makes an unbidding promise, which might be ridiculous, but whose realization is questionable at best. And even if an effort is made, it will be sometime in the future.   Peevski retreated back to his residence in Dubai, and if the past is any indication, we won’t be hearing from him directly anytime soon. At least not before the next elections in the fall. But all the other politicians are here and they seem to have taken a liking to Peevski’s statements, deciding to bend over backwards to try and top them off.   The Bulgarian Socialist Party was first to hop on the populist marry-go-round. VAT on bread is not enough, they said, and moved to expand the scope of everyday goods that would have a lower VAT to include meat, milk, flour, and flour products. After BSP decidedly lost the last elections, and most of the credit for that loss should go to BSP’s campaign messages, which were entirely deprived of policy reflection, BSP may be felt the need to take the floor and demonstrate political engagement. This extraordinary political vision of the future by BSP might have been enough for its acting leader (who resigned after the elections) Korneliya Ninova, but to anyone else it is laughable.   But then again, indeed, BSP’s idea for left-wing policy does not expand much further than lowering taxes for a few goods, which do not need it anyway. Granted, they appeal to the base. The price of bread, for historical reasons, is a catch-all metaphor for the state of the economy and especially inflation and consumer capacity. But this is not the case today, and if Peevski wishes to drop a populist bomb on the public, that is understandable, but not as sad as Ninova, who might very well believe this to be ..


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