Over two weeks ago an alleged mob boss was appointed as head of a major law enforcement agency. To put it in U.S. terms, imagine that a man being investigated for ties to organized crime suddenly was made the head of the FBI. What would your reaction be?
Well the reaction of the people of Bulgaria has been heard loud and clear. For the past 16 days thousands of people have marched on the streets of Bulgaria's major cities. Every night there is another protest in downtown Sofia The government is not listening to the voice of the people. It has become a battle of wills. The people want the government (which was just recently elected) to step down. The government refuses to comply with the will of the people and has placed itself above the people who put them in power.
The interesting thing about the protests is the seemingly unified face of Bulgaria. I've gleaned several opinions from my Bulgarian sources. The softest response to the situation that I have heard has been to say that the government did wrong in this case, but they have only been in power for two months. "Give them time to make changes," they might say. The anti-government response has been, "We will not give them time. We have seen bully tactics like this from the government before." No one is happy with what appears to be a link between the ruling Socialist party and organized crime.
It seems those most upset are those who most remember what it is like to live under a dictatorship. Today I saw a sign that read, "Freedom or the U.S.S.R." It is as if the Bulgarian people are saying, "Never again!." Last night my own retired mother-in-law joined the protests. She has no desire to give up her freedom. She remembers what it was like without it.
As an outsider looking in, I have to wonder where this is going. The government will not head the will of the people, and the people are not backing down. I see three possibilities. 1) The government can relent and step down leading to a new round of elections. 2) The people can give in and accept that the government will do whatever it wants. 3) Things can get ugly.
For now it seems to be at a stand still, and I find myself praying for a peaceful solution every day. Praise God that this conflict has yet to turn violent. Pray that it remains peaceful.