Bulgarian PM Resigns Amid Austerity Protests

By Tara MacIsaac On February 20, 2013 @ 10:55 am In Europe | No Comments

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announces his government's resignation on Feb. 20, 2013 following days of sometimes violent street protests in the European Union's poorest member. (AFP/Getty Images)

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announces his government's resignation on Feb. 20, 2013 following days of sometimes violent street protests in the European Union's poorest member. (AFP/Getty Images)

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s approval ratings dropped and protests escalated over the last couple of weeks—he announced his resignation on Wednesday. 

A hike in electricity prices exacerbated the economic strife that has caused many Bulgarians to emigrate. Tens of thousands participated in the protests, estimates Reuters. Prices were hiked by 13 percent in July 2012, reports Euro News, but were most poignantly felt in the dead cold of February. 

Several protesters were hospitalized on Tuesday, leading Borisov to say as he announced his resignation, “I will not participate in a government under which police are beating people,” according to Reuters.

The 53-year-old former major general was elected in 2009. Elections, set for July, will likely happen sooner. 

When European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso met with Borisov in August 2012, he advised the Prime Minister that, “A real push is needed on pension reform, the fight against poverty, youth unemployment and administrative capacity to improve living standards and keep the Bulgarian economy growing.”

Barroso said in his statement, “I have also encouraged the Prime Minister to continue the reform efforts in the areas of judicial reform, the fight against corruption.”

Borisov said during his resignation announcement that his party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), “will not be part of a programmatic or caretaker cabinet. The state needs a new credit of confidence,” according to the Bulgarian News Agency.

Borisov had announced Tuesday that he would lower electricity prices to appease protesters. 

“Yesterday we did our best to respond to the protesters’ demands. As from today, there is nothing more that we can do to help the protesters,” Borisov said Wednesday, according the the Bulgarian News Agency. “The BSP [Bulgarian Socialist Party], the MRF [Movement for Rights and Freedoms] and the Blue Coalition use the protests as an excuse.”

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