There are to be two defining political events in Bulgaria that may be predicted in the coming year – the January 27 referendum on nuclear power and the mid-year national parliamentary elections; as to everything else, as is always the case with politics, that is unpredictable. Albeit at a long remove, the referendum will be a test for the government, after the strange saga of on-again, off-again twists and turns in the question about building the long-planned nuclear power station at Belene.
Officially, the referendum is about the further development of nuclear power in Bulgaria in principle, and not specifically about Belene, which is not mentioned in the question. But the opposition socialists, which sought in 2012 to revive their campaign for the Russian-linked project and sought to seize the initiative from the government, will surely see a yes vote as a mandate for the project.
Whatever the result, the outcome of the referendum will be contested by all political sides as they seek to interpret to their advantage. Certainly it will enliven January, in the political sense, and history is likely to record that in effect campaigning will flow in a continuous stream from the darkest days of winter to the early days of summer, when Bulgarians will be called back to the polls to choose a National Assembly.
As to that latter vote, current opinion polls are showing ruling centre-right party GERB as likely to take the largest share of the ballots. However, the opposition socialists already have been telegraphing that they expect the election to be skewed by irregularities. This perspective of theirs is predictable not only in current statements but also in the rowdy dispute over the electoral law and before that, the fracas that followed the 2011 presidential election.
Full Article: The Globe 2013: Bulgaria makes its choices – The Sofia Globe.