Freedom House: Bulgaria's Democracy Is Going Back to 2003 Levels

The yearly report called Nations in Transit, issued by the Freedom House organization points out that democracy levels in Bulgaria have been going downwards since 2008 and have now reached the same levels as in 2003. The report is focused on 29 countries in Central and Eastern Europe - mainly former socialist states on their way to democracy. 

According to the report, Bulgaria takes the 8th place among the 29 countries. The only index that has dropped is the local democratic governance - the other indices remain unchanged. However, this has a noticeable effect on Bulgaria's score which dropped to 3.39 in comparison to 3.36 last year (the highest score is a 1 and the lowest is a 7). The country's top score was in 2008 when it peaked at 2.86. 

The worst indices are those of corruption and freedom of the media. (Bulgaria takes the shameful 109th place on freedom of the media in the world, according to Reporters Without Borders) The Juridical system and the national democratic governance are also evaluated with low scores. The best factors in Bulgaria's score are the election process and the civil society. 

Freedom House has expressed concerns that the Bulgarian society and the independent media will not be able to fight the flow of hate speech, fake news, and xenophobia as well as the narrowed down activity and lack of finances for the NGOs. Another problem the organization sees is that there is no clarity on matters such as the ownership of certain media outlets. The troublesome fusion between news and politics is also a problem that has to be resolved. 

According to Freedom House, Bulgaria has serious issues with corruption on all levels. The rule of law is not a valid rule in Bulgarian politics, according to the report. Abuse of power is yet another concern that Freedom House has - the report points to two specific cases - "Dunarit" and "EMKO". 

The report includes a rather disturbing claim - Freedom House foresees a destabilization in the governing coalition between GERB and the "United Patriots". The report claims that a collapse of the coalition is to be expected shortly after Bulgaria's Presidency of the EC ends (June 30th).   

The tendency of Bulgaria's democracy index going down for the past 10 years should be taken into consideration by many. Currently, Bulgaria's democracy index is the same as in 2003 - for the last 18 years, Bulgaria's lowest index was in the year 2000. Should this trend continue, the country might break its own shameful record. 

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Vasil Manev

Vasil Manev is a student in Computer Science and an aspiring columnist, studying in Heidelberg, Germany.

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