A supposed friend of Russia becomes new President

Bulgaria has elected Rumen Radew as the new President. The socialist party’s opposition candidate won the election rather surprisingly. Radew is a newcomer to the political scene; before being elected President, he was Chief of Bulgaria’s Air Force and worked closely with NATO. Nonetheless, the new President is seen as Russian-friendly and is openly calling for an end to the sanctions against Russia. At first glance one might suspect the Bulgarians to be veering towards Moscow with their election, playing right into the hands of Russian President Putin. After a more careful examination, it has become clear that there are other reasons behind the Bulgarian vote.   This eastern European country is struggling with massive corruption and poverty rates. According to Transparency International, compared to the rest of Europe, Bulgaria is among those countries with the highest incidents of corruption. With about 46% of the average GDP per capita, Bulgaria is the poorest country in the EU. The increase in the standard of living that the Bulgarians hoped to have after joining the EU in 2007 failed to materialize. The opposite was actually the case; the economic crisis hit Bulgaria and caused the local growth rate to fall, and the continuing disparities between Bulgaria and the other EU countries remain considerable. After an almost 10-year membership in the EU, disenchantment is spreading among the Bulgarians. On the one hand, the EU is losing its luster, and on the heels of this fact comes the accusation that the weakest members of the Union are falling by the wayside. On the other hand, there is a growing sense of mistrust among the people regarding Bulgaria’s political class, due to nationwide income inequality. The vote for the political newcomer Rumen Radew is also a vote against the existing political hegemony that has disappointed … Continue reading A supposed friend of Russia becomes new President