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November 10 – 22 years later

November 10 – 22 years later

11/10/2011 4:03:52 PM

On November 10, 1989, all Bulgarian citizens everywhere in the country were gazing at the television screen in disbelief. The TV reports came as a complete surprise – they were showing the plenum of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party at which its secretary general, Todor Jivkov, was totally unexpectedly discharged from his post of leader of the country, a job he had been doing for more than 30 years. A new era in Bulgarian history was starting – an era of turbulent political, economic, and social changes. Everyone was now free to voice their opinions at rallies and in media, to join political parties or civil associations of their own choice, and to travel, study and work in any country they want.

Commerce became the fastest developing sector of private entrepreneurship. The long queues for TV sets, fridges, and Russian cars turned into an unpleasant memory from the past. Today, car dealers offer any types of vehicles – from used cars to brand new expensive brands. Many large European retail chains have opened stores in the country for mass consumers, and also for boutique solutions for rich customers. A big variety of locally produced merchandise is on sale in supermarkets. Bookstores and book fairs offer works of writers from around the world on any topic. Bulgaria is now a regular venue in the tours of world-famous bands, singers, musicians, film festivals, etc.

Yet, can the joys of consumerist society with a multitude of material products and cultural artifacts freely offered on the market today compensate for the fear of losing one’s job, especially after the start of the economic crisis? Why do people who have worked diligently and conscientiously for years receive such small pensions? Why was the privatization of state properties not made with more justice and why was the civil energy of Bulgarian citizens in the first years of the democratic changes wasted? Why is the country shaken by repeated protests of medics and scholars from the Bulgarian Academy of Science insisting on a better future for the healthcare and education sectors?

These questions can be given varied answers, depending on the their social status of people who answer. It is easy to understand why many Bulgarians still feel nostalgic about the period of Socialism because of the low but secure incomes, free education and healthcare, and comparative social and economic equality between people at that time. A lot of people, however, would never exchange their freedom to travel, study, and work wherever they want for any type of material security, even today. With the old political system, such freedoms were not possible.
Still, November 10, the day of the collapse of Socialism in Bulgaria, will continue arousing controversial feelings in many people and this will not stop until our country creates the favorable conditions for the emergence of a numerous and stable middle class that would give birth to new ideas and visions of the future.

bnr.bg

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