Bulgaria president suggests early elections amid protests

Bulgaria president suggests early elections amid protests

SOFIA - Agence France-Presse
Bulgaria president suggests early elections amid protests

Bulgarian demonstrators take part in an anti-government protest on July 4 in the capital Sofia. AFP photo

Bulgaria's president said today the country might be better off holding new elections, just two months after the last poll, if politicians failed to respond to a wave of mass protests.

"There have been incessant protests in Bulgaria for 22 days now and I still do not see politicians making a clear effort to take notice of what is happening and explain to the nation in plain terms what they will do about it," Rosen Plevneliev said in a special broadcast address.

"If nothing else helps, if there are not even attempts to reach agreement, then the only democratic solution is elections." The president in Bulgaria sets the date for elections but cannot however call new ones unless the government resigns and parliament agrees to dissolve.

Up to 10,000 people have joined nightly rallies in Sofia and other towns since June 14, just months after anti-poverty and corruption demonstrations forced out the previous conservative government in February.

Public anger began over a political appointment but soon turned against a government and political class that protesters say are too dependent on shady corporate interests.

Still, Socialist-backed Premier Plamen Oresharski - appointed after a snap election in May - has refused to step down.

In his unusually harsh address, Plevneliev warned that politicians could not wait for the protests to subside on their own.

He also slammed the lack of debate regarding the close ties linking politicians to oligarchs, urging them to "show unequivocally that they have the will to clear once and for all doubts over behind-the-scenes dependencies in politics." Social measures introduced by Oresharski to appease the protests -- including efforts to ease poverty and unemployment, lower electricity prices and allow smaller parties into parliament -- were positive but not enough, he said.

"People will no longer close their eyes so it is high time for politicians to open theirs," Plevneliev said.