by Dimitris Kairidis [*]
(Ta Nea, June 19, 2001)
The victory of Symeon represents the disillusionment of the Bulgarian people with the current state of economic stagnation.
For while the UDF government succeeded in bringing macro-economic stabilization to the countrys economy, cutting inflation and deficits, it was not able to attract large-scale foreign investment and, in general, to tackle the problems of unemployment and development afflicting Bulgarian society.
Symeons appeal is based on a nostalgia for the pre-communist past and a populist platform in which he promised all things to all people, without deigning to enter into details. He also benefited from the decline in popularity of the other main political groupings the Socialist Party, which since the economic disaster of 1997 has not been able to offer a credible alternative government, and the UDF, which despite certain achievements has nevertheless failed in its central objective of rapid economic development and has had to take a series of unpopular economic measures costly in terms of electoral support.
Symeon attracted the votes of mainly the less powerful sections of Bulgarian societythe farmers, pensioners and unemployed while the UDF on the other hand continued to enjoy the support of the urban liberal classes and of those who have benefited from the changes which have occurred since 1989.
* D. Kairidis is assistant professor of Balkan Studies (elect) at the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, and director of the Kokkalis Foundation