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Big hopes and good news

Big hopes and good news


“Burgas is the capital of direct democracy in Bulgaria!” – with these words our President Gerald Häfner concluded tonight’s welcoming speech of our summer academy to an audience of more than 50 people. Following today’s meeting of our pre-tour we have reason to base Gerald Häfner’s euphoric remarks on empirical facts and figures.



Early this morning we met with Konstantin Grebenarov, Governor of the region of Burgas, which is the highest office someone can hold at regional level in Bulgaria. Mr Grebenarov told us about the rules and procedures of direct democracy in Burgas. Because of his enthusiastic and honest explanations we could feel that direct democracy is a matter close to Mr Grebenarov’s heart. For example, Mr. Grebenarov made us understand that the new threshold of a referendum at local level, i.e. having the same turnout as the previous elections, should be reconsidered to meet Bulgarian citizens’ excitement for democracy and effective decision-making.

Also, being well prepared about the legal provisions of the referendum at regional level, Mr. Grebenarov was happy to respond to all of our questions. Still being very impressed by the referenda on the oil pipeline in the communities of Burgas (see article of 12 July 12), we could not stop asking questions about the story of “David against Goliath”. In that context we learned that it had been the Bulgarian Government who dissolved the (international) Treaty on building the oil pipeline. The Government had to pay a fine for not following its signed commitment but the will of the people. 

All these were positive news. We hope that the Governor of Burgas will keep his enthusiasm and make sure that Burgas’ top issues of waste water treatment and infrastructure also will be decided by the people. Whoever knows, in view of Burgas’ enthusiasm for direct democracy, maybe we can call Burgas also the European capital of direct democracy one day.  

Text by Cora Pfafferott


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