Europe 2017: Avoiding Electoral Surprises

Kursnummer: 13417

Part 2: Bulgaria: East versus West

Cooperation project between fjum and the European Commission Representation in Austria

Seminar series on the countries that hold election in spring 2017. Information regarding Serbia, France and Albania to follow.


By calling early parliamentary elections on 26 March 2017, Bulgarian Prime Minster Boyko Borissov fulfilled his electoral promise during the 2016 presidential race: should the candidate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Rumen Radev win the elections, he would resign.

Former Air Force Commander and political novice, Major General Radev, trained in the US Maxwell Air Force Base but perceived as pro-Russian, won elections with about 59% of the vote.

What are the key electoral issues in 2017? What is the nature of the pro-Russian versus pro Brussels debate in Bulgaria? What is the world view from the poorest EU country, with a large diaspora? Approximately one million people left Bulgaria since the fall of Communism. Why is the anti-immigrant feeling spread and refugee hunting tolerated?

Unlike other EU member states, Bulgaria and Romania are still monitored by Brussels. When they joined the EU on 1 January 2007, it was decided that their membership would be accompanied by a monitoring mechanism of the progress made in judicial reform, fighting corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria, of organised crime.

The so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was put in place from the first day of Bulgaria and Romania’s accession. The idea was that in a few years, the two countries would overcome deficiencies and the monitoring would be lifted. However, this monitoring continues 10 years after the accession.

Boryana Dzhambazova, Sofia-based freelance journalist writing for the major international media, like the New York Times or The Economist, will discuss the current situation in the country, including the growing pro- Russia and anti- Russia debate.

EU expert Wolfgang Bogensberger will discuss Cooperation and Verification Mechanism and explain the reasons why monitoring is still necessary.

By developing the contextual knowledge, the session will reinforce the perception and insights of the journalists who follow political development and elections in Bulgaria.

Learning Objective

To detect the most important elements that have to be taken into account when writing, analysing, following and commenting political developments in Bulgaria. To know what matters on the ground to the Bulgarian voters, not how outsiders react in this regard.


The session consists of 2 presentations and an interactive discussion. The reduced group size allows for a continuous dialogue. One week before the session, all participants will receive several articles on recent developments in Bulgaria. That way, everyone will have a same starting point for the discussion.

Target Groups

Journalists from the Austrian and Austria-based media, foreign and national news desks.


Read the provided material before the session.
Maximum number of participants: 12
Registration deadline: 15 March 2017


Boryana Dzhambazova is a freelance journalist, based in Sofia, Bulgaria. She started her journalism career in 2005, writing for both Bulgarian and foreign publications. Since then she has covered a wide range of topics – from economic and political developments to social affairs and human rights issues. Her articles appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, Business Week, and Fast Company among others. She holds a master’s degree in new media from New York University.

Wolfgang Bogensberger is a political scientist and lawyer. Team Leader Political Reporting, Advisor Justice and Home Affairs, Representation of the European Commission in Austria. Lecturer on Fundamental Rights at the Law Faculty of the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna.

Further Questions

For additional information about the session, contact Mirjana Tomic, seminar manager,, or call 0676 365 26 93

Mirjana Tomić develops and manages fjum_Kontext information sessions on international current affairs. Her international career encompasses journalism, media and political analyses, public outreach and university lecturing. She holds a BA degree in Political Science from Brandeis University, US, and an MA from El Colegio de México, Mexico City, Mexico.

20.04.201709:30 - 12:00
Boryana Dzhambazova
Haus der EU
Wipplingerstraße 35, 1010 Wien