Maxim Behar for Euronews: Bulgaria Needs a Strong Political HandApril, 2023
Maxim Behar commented on the air of Euronews Bulgaria the fifth consecutive early parliamentary elections. He shared his thoughtson the past election campaign of participating parties, as well as his opinion on concrete measures and actions that would lead to a better economic policy in Bulgaria.
Host: I would like to introduce you to our next guest, the PR expert Maxim Behar. Hello and welcome.
Maxim: Good morning.
Host: Our election studio is called "Bulgaria elects again", but since yesterday I think we should name it "Bulgaria elects again and again, again" and so five times. What did this campaign look like? Was it absent? Did it make sense? Was there a campaign at all, Mr. Behar?
Maxim: There was no campaign, of course, the puppies on the street know. There were no new messages. And I'm not saying anything new. I can say it, because I look at things from the sides. We don't do political marketing. And maybe it's easy. To tell them things from aside. But I think it wasn't just fatigue, and as Ilfi Petrov had said: "Crisis in Genre", that dominated the campaigns in this election. There was nothing to say. What struck me much was that in all the debates, in all the television studios, people were talking over each other. And in practice, it all became a spoken by in which even the unprejudiced person, that wanted to see who to vote for, couldn't find their way. And it seems to me that these fifth elections are now the absolute boiling point at which all possible ways of communicating with voters have been totally exhausted. I won't say anything new that there were no messages, look at the billboards on the roads, in the towns, in the streets. There is not a single message, there are only faces. It's like we have a mayoral election. Or as if we had a majority election. Why? Because there is no message. Everybody wants a European country, everybody wants to live better, everybody wants higher pensions and wages. How will it happen?
Host: We can hardly get people to come out and vote. Here, all the sociologists and political analysts expect even lower numbers of voters to go to the polls than in the last election when there was an anti-record?
Maxim: Well, you know, the voters, our citizens. After all. They had nowhere to inform themselves for whom, where and what difference it makes. Now, it's probably a vote of nostalgia for previous governments and against the hope that something new and interesting will come. At the same time everybody is going out everywhere and saying, " Vote, vote, vote!", it is not happening like that. It is as if somebody doesn't like cabbage, but everybody is telling them to eat it. If there are messages and the politicians who are interesting. If there are interesting campaigns, if there are interesting concepts, they will go and vote. But I wouldn't be surprised if the percentage of voters is lower than it was in the last elections. Because there's no interest. Why would you go to vote when you don't see interesting personalities, political forces, political strategies in front of you. There were three main political points that were not commented on by any of the political parties as they should have been. The war in Ukraine, someone said: "We are for the war, but we are also against the war”. I mean, everybody was kind of moving in the middle. And to satisfy one and the other, which is not fair because it is war. The second is the Euro. If I were a politician, I would probably use it in my campaign, because the Euro will transform Bulgaria. 2007, January 1, when Bulgaria became a member of the European Union, before that 2004 NATO. And now the implementation of the Euro. Even our admission into the Schengen area is not as dramatic as the Euro and we as businesspeople know, I just have a picture of how my Business will change. And if I were a politician, I would use the Euro as one strong argument: „Yes or No “with arguments.
Host: But there are some formations that use it?
Maxim: They are using it without any clear arguments. And the third point – inflation and the economic crisis.
Host: It's time for the forecasts. In your opinion, will we have a government after these elections and will the moment come when the arguments about stability, the war in Ukraine, inflation, and everything else are enough to make the voters come together, to elect a government, to have some kind of agreement, to have unity around priorities as the leaders said earlier or?
Maxim: Almost impossible to make a forecast today. I would predict what I would like and what I think is reasonable to happen in Bulgaria. A government in which there is an economy with a firm hand. The price problem hasn't come from somewhere outside. It is not a made-up problem. There is an awful lot of money in the market. We read all the time “Someone took 50 000 000 in a bag from some bank and took it somewhere”, and so on. This is money that is on the market, and this is the main cause of inflation, practically nothing else. There is a lot of money in the market, the restaurants are full, there are a lot of people who are suffering and who have empty fridges, as we saw in the report. There must be a government, I don't care at all, who is going to be the Minister of Sport, the Minister of Culture with the utmost respect and regard for these public activities. There must be a stern economy. Very clear political thinking, how Bulgaria can get out of this mess without any populism. Simply with measures to be put in place at the second. So that every single citizen of the Republic of Bulgaria sees that they earn money from their job and can live well. 2023 is the year, 32 years after the fall of communism, we are still talking about empty refrigerators and poor people. This cannot go on and there will be elections again and again. We do not want to have elections again and again. We want to have a government that has a clear economic program but finds an economist. Because they are very few in Bulgaria. Let's put him as prime minister or minister of finance and start acting.
Host: But they must have a perspective to make reforms, which are usually made in the first or second year of the term.
Maxim: And repairs.
Host: And no elections coming up soon, yes! Because there are local elections coming up, and it's unlike all the others we can talk about and joke and improvise. They're fixed, we know they are coming in the fall.
Maxim: Yes, but we want these to be the last general elections for the next four years. Otherwise, it is very difficult to predict, not who will win the elections, it is difficult to predict what will happen in Bulgaria. Which is a big pain for all of us.
Host: And let's say a few words about the role of the President, past the caretaker governments that he's had in the last two years, to do something that had never happened before in our history. He basically ruled a caretaker government for two years?
Maxim: What role can the President have, except a unique and decisive one. Naturally, the President currently rules along with his governments. I don't want to comment on the presidential institution. I know Rumen Radev well. But I think he could do a lot as well, exactly what we talked about, that we need a very strong political hand to implement a strict economic policy.
Host: Will you vote Mr. Behar and how?
Maxim: Yes, of course, 100 % by machine. Can I just share one remark about the election. It is so comical. We have international observers who are at the elections. This has never happened in Bulgaria before, at least I don't remember in 30 years. We take pictures with phones, we transmit directly, there aren't any small rooms. What we lack is a scanner to take our fingerprints. Like we've seen in the movies. You know I love Africa a lot, but for the poorest African countries. The only thing that is guaranteed to make this election fair is to walk with our fingerprints. I hope that doesn't happen for the next election.
Host: Thank you for this conversation, Mr. Behar.
You can watch the whole video here.